Thursday, March 31, 2011

SEC Gives Shareholders a Voice on Corporate Campaign Spending by Ciara Torres-Spelliscy - Brennan Center for Justice

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The SEC has just issued an important post-Citizens United  no-action letter that will enhance the ability of shareholders to have more of a voice when publicly-traded corporations spend money on politics. In doing so, the SEC recognized that shareholder accountability over corporate political spending is a significant policy issue that can’t be barred from a proxy statement under the ordinary business exclusion.
The no-action letter came after Home Depot tried to keep a shareholder resolution on corporate political spending off of this year’s proxy statement. The SEC said the shareholders would get a chance to vote on the matter. This action provides shareholders with greater protections when corporations spend their money, in the form of general corporate funds, on politics.
The substance of the Home Depot proposal, submitted by NorthStar Asset Management Funded Pension Plan, is the following:
Shareholders recommend that the Board of Directors adopt a policy under which the proxy statement for each annual meeting will contain a proposal describing:
  • the company's policies on electioneering contributions,
  • any specific expenditures for electioneering communications known to be anticipated during the forthcoming fiscal year,
  • the total amount of such anticipated expenditures,
  • a list of electioneering expenditures made in the prior fiscal year, and
  • providing an advisory shareholder vote on those policies and future plans.
NorthStar’s supporting statement requested that management provide an analysis as to whether Home Depot’s political spending was in line with its values and policies, and any risks it might pose to the company’s reputation, brand, or shareholder value.
This shareholder proposal was based in part on draft legislation written by the Brennan Center last year which became the Shareholder Protection Act in the 111th Congress.
The SEC rejected all of Home Depot’s objections to the inclusion of this shareholder proposal on the 2011 proxy statement.
This SEC no-action letter means shareholders can assert self-help on a company-by-company basis, not just on transparency of political spending, but also on an advisory shareholder vote on such spending. This is a big step in the right direction for giving shareholders more protections after Citizens United allowed corporations the ability to spend other people’s money in politics.

Going Green in Queens Educates Earth's Caretakers by Howard Koplowitz >

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Yilmael Diaz (r.) shows the art of correct planting during the Going Green in Queens conference. Photo by Steven Malecki
From making their own compost to Tree Pruning 101, Queens residents learned what they can do to help the environment during Going Green in Queens at the Al Oerter Recreational Center in Flushing.

Fred Kress, the main organizer of the event, said more than 500 people attended the Saturday event.

“Last year the turnout was lower,”he said. “This year was better.”

Mark and Elizabeth Kurtz of Middle Village said they came to the event to learn more about helping the environment.

The couple said they went to the event, where TimesLedger Newspapers was the media sponsor, to learn more about composting and conserving energy.

They said they had tried making their own compost before, but the worms “got so hot [they] ended up dying. We need some tips on how to keep them alive.”

Gina Baldwin, project manager of the New York City Compost Project in Queens, which works with the Queens Botanical Garden, led a workshop on making compost, or decomposed organic matter.

The compost is rich in nutrients that is used to complement soil.

Besides helping plants grow, Baldwin said compost also helps reduce food waste — such as egg shells, food scraps and fruit peels — from going into the garbage stream.

“Compost is like nature’s recycling,” she said.

Baldwin said more than a dozen items can be used to create compost, including hedge clippings, leaves, feathers, corn cobs, hair and nails.

She said the best compost strikes a balance between green materials, such as hedge clippings, and brown materials like coffee grinds and tea bags.

Worms are added to the compost supplies so they can eat the scraps and make the waste that creates compost.

“Fortunately, the worm poop is what we want,” she said, because the waste is high in nutrients.

The event also featured more than 50 informational tables, including companies promoting wind and solar energy and a group of St. Francis Prep students who conducted a project on the ecosystem around the Fresh Meadows school.

“We kind of wanted to take the idea of answering the question, ‘What’s in your backyard?’” said senior Kevin Tong. “What many people don’t know is within the soil are little organisms like bacteria that make the soil have more nutrients.”

“We found a lot of bugs,” said senior Kara Hammond. “You never think about how much is actually around.”

Hammond said the project “was interesting because there’s a lot more than you think is there, but it’s hidden.”

Harlem resident and Oregon native Melody Ross said she went to Going Green in Queens because she is running green volunteer projects for TimeBanks NYC and wanted to network with more green partners.

Ross said she used to do composting in her backyard in Oregon and wants to find other ways to help the environment in the city.

“We’re pretty much green hippies in the northwest so I’ve tried to find green things to do in the city,” she said.

Revealed! Vito’s $64,000 Pension by Aaron Short • The Brooklyn Paper

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“What is Assemblyman Vito Lopez’s annual state pension” — now has a $64,000 answer.
The scandal-plagued legislator is collecting a monthly pension of $5,386.16 — or $64,634 per year — on top of his $92,000 yearly salary, according to state records that were released to this newspaper under the Freedom of Information Law.
In other words, Lopez is earning time-and-a-half while on the job as the people’s representative in Albany.
He’ll close out 2011 with an income topping $156,000.
And it’s all legal.
Lopez, 69, is one of 10 lawmakers who filed his “retirement” papers on Dec. 31 in order to collect the extra moolah — thanks to a little-known state loophole that allows officeholders over the age of 64 to legally collect their pensions while still on the job.
The cancer-stricken lawmaker defended the practice in an exclusive interview with The Brooklyn Paper last year, explaining that he applied for his pension to take care of his family if his health rapidly declined.
“I’m very comfortable with my rationale and I’ve explained that to you,” said Lopez. “My obligation is to my family and to my health.”
Lopez has been combatting a recurrence of cancer since last summer— forcing him to take a brief leave of absence to treat the illness in October.
But he came back stronger than ever introducing more than 20 bills, fighting for affordable housing, and to stave off Gov. Cuomo’s threat to close scores of senior centers.
And he’s done it all in the shadow of two exhaustive federal probes and a widening city investigation into the finances and board of the nonprofit he founded


N.Y. Senators Join in Census Challenge -

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Add New York's two Democratic senators to the list of public officials who say the U.S. Census miscounted the population in the Big Apple.

Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer agree with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg that the 2010 Census undercounted residents in Brooklyn and Queens.

Sunday, Bloomberg announced the city will officially challenge the Census, which says New York City and the state gained 2.1% from 2000 to 2010, for a record 8,175,133 people. USA TODAY's Martha T. Moore reported on the dispute here.

As Gillibrand noted on her Twitter feed today, an undercount has serious repercussions:

These are high growth areas w/large immigrant populations. It's crucial that #NYC get the federal funds & the representation it deserves.

Schumer, who lives in Brooklyn, said "it strains credulity" that New York City has grown only by 167,000 people in the past decade.

Check out USA TODAY's Census coverage here, including a rollover map that is updated as population and diversity trends are released.

To challenge the Census, the New York officials had to notify Commerce Secretary Gary Locke that they will undergo the formal appeals process known as the Count Question Resolution Program.

Congressman Towns' Statement on Geraldine Ferraro

Congressman Ed Towns (D-NY) released the following statement today regarding the passing of Geraldine Ferraro.

“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro, one of America’s great public leaders, on March 26, 2011 after a 12-year battle with multiple myeloma.

“Congresswoman Ferraro preceded me in the House of Representatives and our paths often crossed as Members of the New York delegation. She was a strong American and proud New Yorker. She reminded me of another trailblazer, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, my mentor. Both she and Congresswoman Ferraro were pioneers in female politics and epitomized what it meant to be a political force. At a time when many shied away from political challenges, Ferraro stood tall and became first female Vice Presidential candidate for a major American political party.

“Congresswoman Ferraro’s life touched millions, including mine. We cherish her memory and her legacy will be a beacon for other Americans pursuing their dreams. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Ferraro-Zaccaro family.”

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Queens Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn Retiring: Special Election On Tap by Celeste Katz - Daily Politics | New York Daily News

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Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn, the dean of the Queens delegation who was first elected back in 1982, announced today she is retiring.

Our Lisa L. Colangelo reports:
"After much deliberation, I believe the time has come for me to step aside," said Mayersohn, who turns 87 in May and represents the 27th Assembly district.
Sources said she is retiring to spend more time with her family and not because of any health issues.
Mayersohn’s longtime aide, Michael Simanowitz, is being touted as the frontrunner to replace her.
During her tenure, Mayersohn authored a number of laws focused on health issues. Her “Baby AIDS” law, enacted in 1996, requires doctors to tell mothers of HIV-infected newborns about their children’s condition.
Last year, Mayersohn was sued for a car accident that took place near her Flushing home.
Voters will pick Mayersohn’s replacement in a special election. But placement on the critical ballot is chosen by the four District Leaders - Mayersohn, Simanowitz, former Councilman Morty Povman and Charlotte Scheman.
"I could never have been able to accomplish anything without my constituents," Mayersohn said in a release. "They gave me the privilege of representing their interests for 28 years. I never took their support for granted and worked very hard to ensure their continued trust. All I can say is thank you; I will never forget you."

Wall Street's Free Ride - American Family Voices - YouTube

Here’s a new Web ad an organization, American Family Voices, just put up that does a great job of talking about this issue from the small business point of view...

Senator Gillibrand, Rep Crowley Introduce Resolution to Honor Geraldine A. Ferraro

Members of New York’s Delegation Join in Support of Paying Tribute to Ferraro

Resolution Passes Senate by Unanimous Consent Late Last Night

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx) introduced matching resolutions in the Senate and House to honor the life and accomplishments of former Congresswoman and Vice-Presidential candidate Geraldine A. Ferraro. The resolutions, which recognize Ferraro’s service to Queens and New York, as well as pay tribute to her indelible impact as a trailblazer in American politics, passed the Senate by Unanimous Consent late last night.

Geraldine Ferraro was more than a pioneer who inspired me, and generations of women, she was also a great friend and mentor,”Senator Gillibrand said. “I will greatly miss her many words of wisdom, encouragement and advice. While her passing is a great loss for our country, I know that her legacy will live on forever. I was inspired by her convention speech when she said, ‘The issue is not what Americans can do for women, but what women can do for America,’ and am humbled to be part of the next generation of women leaders carrying on her life’s work. I am proud to join Rep. Crowley in introducing a resolution honoring the extraordinary life of Geraldine Ferraro.”

Gerry may have made her mark on the nation’s consciousness as a member of Congress and a candidate for vice president, but she was much more. She was a wife, a mother, and above all, an inspiration to both those who knew her and those who simply knew of her,” said Congressman Crowley. “As the Representative of her former district, Gerry was a great mentor and friend, and she had a profound influence on my service to the people of Queens. It is with great honor that I join Senator Gillibrand in introducing a resolution to honor the life and legacy of this incredible woman who will forever remain a fixture not only in American politics, but in our hearts.”

The resolutions, co-sponsored by the entire New York State delegation, recognize Ferraro for helping to “tear down barriers to the full and equal participation of women in national politics.” From working her way through law school, to being one of 16 women in the House of Representatives, to her selection as the first woman to be a candidate for Vice President on a major political party’s ticket, Ferraro paved the way for the next generation of American women.

The resolutions also laud Ferraro’s fight for women’s rights, marking her legislative achievements while serving the 9th Congressional District of New York, as well as her efforts to fight for women’s rights around the world when she later served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Additionally, the resolutions highlight Ferraro’s distinguished career as a district attorney in New York, her rise in the Democratic Party’s leadership, and her life-long commitment to public service.

The text of the Senate and House resolutions is below:

Honoring Congresswoman Geraldine A. Ferraro, the first woman selected by a major political party as its candidate for Vice President of the United States, and extending the condolences of the Senate on her death.

Whereas Congresswoman Geraldine A. Ferraro served the people of the 9th Congressional district of New York for 6 years;

Whereas, Congresswoman Ferraro worked her way through law school at Fordham University, at a time when very few women did so;

Whereas, Congresswoman Ferraro then joined the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, where she supervised the prosecution of a variety of violent crimes, including child and domestic abuse;

Whereas, in 1978 New York’s Ninth Congressional district in Queens elected Congresswoman Ferraro to the U.S. House of Representatives, where she was one of only sixteen women members of the House;

Whereas, when she was nominated as the running mate of Vice President Walter F. Mondale in the 1984 presidential race, Congresswoman Ferraro became the first woman ever chosen to run on the national ticket of either of America’s two major political parties;

Whereas, Congresswoman Ferraro’s candidacy continues the progress begun by women who achieved political firsts before her and helped to tear down barriers to the full and equal participation of women in national politics;

Whereas in January 1993, President Clinton appointed Ms. Ferraro a United States Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, a role from which she championed the rights of women around the world;

Whereas, Geraldine Ferraro's 1984 bid for Vice President helped our daughters join our sons in believing they could achieve anything they set their minds to;
Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That--

(1) the Senate recognizes that Geraldine Ferraro’s vice-presidential candidacy forever enriched the American political landscape and forged a new path for women of the United States;

(2) the Senate pays tribute to Congresswoman Geraldine A. Ferraro's work to improve the lives of women and families not only in the Ninth Congressional District of New York, who she represented so well, but also the lives of women and families all across the United States;

(3) the Senate requests the Secretary of the Senate to transmit an enrolled copy of this resolution to the family of Congresswoman Geraldine A. Ferraro; and

(4) when the Senate adjourns today, it stand adjourned as a further mark of respect to the memory of Congresswoman Geraldine A. Ferraro.

Michelle Rhee’s Potential DC Cheating Scandal by: Ann Bibby - Care2

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Michelle Rhee rose to prominence in the education reform ranks thanks in large part to methods that helped raise test scores in the perennially low-scoring Washington D.C. school district she oversaw as chancellor.
Her tough stance on low-performing schools and teachers, which included firing those whose students didn't measure up on standardized tests, endeared her to reformers like Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan.
A Shining Star
Using a merit pay inspired bonus system to spur performance in both teachers and students, Rhee's reforms seemed to work. Schools like Crosby S. Noyes Education Campus made spectacular gains on the standardized test used by the No Child Left Behind Law to measure student academic growth. In 2006, Noyes ranked in the 10% and was labeled a school "in need of improvement" but two years later ranked 58% and was one of Rhee's "shining stars," proof that her reform efforts worked.
Teachers at Noyes were rewarded with $8,000 bonuses and the principal received $10,000 on two different occasions within a three-year period. Parents, however, complained that the test scores made no sense. Their children still couldn't perform basic math, but they were ignored. Test scores, after all, don't lie.
But sometimes, teachers do.
Altering Test Answers
A recent examination of the tests given in Rhee's former district has revealed that perhaps her incentives worked too well and not in a good way. Noyes students' tests, for example, revealed a high number of erasure marks on the test sheets. A frequency higher than would be expected normally and always from an incorrect answer to a correct answer. In one Noyes seventh grade classroom, the average wrong to right erasure marks averaged 12.7 compared to a district wide average of less than 1. The odds of winning the Powerball, in fact, are greater than such an occurrence being merely chance.
At least half of the schools under Rhee's tenure appear to suffer from the same higher than should be expected erasure problem. Taking into account what was at stake for teachers and principals, it evokes questions. Had some schools engaged in widespread answer changing to secure bonuses or jobs?
What Do You Think?
Rhee's methods have been touted by no less than the White House. But what if the miraculous turnaround of schools under her charge was the result of cheating?
The current Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, came into his White House appointment under similar circumstances. His tenure as the superintendent of the Chicago Public schools system supposedly resulted in widespread improvement based on test scores that turned out to be questionable.
If the "reformers" aren't really reforming, why has no one put the brakes on the dismantling of public education? Even NCLB has fallen far short of it's promise without anyone questioning the wisdom of allowing it to be the law of the land.
What do you think? Are we doing our children good, or harm, by jumping on every bandwagon and following every reformer without first testing their theories on a smaller scale to see if they have merit? What should we be doing?

Michael Moore on The Colbert Report - Comedy Central

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Michael Moore says labor unions are on the ropes because wealthy people have done everything they can to destroy them. (07:17)

Senator Joe Addabbo's Statement on the Late Geraldine Ferraro

NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. (D-Queens), issued the following statement on the late Geraldine Ferraro:

New York and our nation lost a true credible, dedicated trailblazer when Geraldine Ferraro passed away over the weekend. Her work as a teacher, lawyer, mother, local and national public servant who set new standards, is truly to be admired and honored.

I remember many times witnessing the cooperative efforts and friendship of my father, the late Congressman Joseph P. Addabbo, and Geraldine, as they dealt with issues concerning their communities and the whole country in Washington, D.C.

Italian Americans across the city, state and country should be proud of her accomplishments and rise to global prominence. As a champion of women’s rights, may Geraldine Ferraro continue to serve as an inspiration to many for generations to come.

NYS Comptroller Tom DiNapoli Audit Identifies Discrepancies in Dropout Rate Reported by NYC Department of Education

The dropout rate among New York City public school students is higher than claims made by the city Department of Education (DoE), according to an audit released by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. DiNapoli’s auditors found that for the 2004 through 2008 school years, the dropout rate may have been as high as 16.5 percent, rather than the 13 percent cited by DoE. As a result, the graduation rate may have been as low as 62.9 percent, rather than the 65.5 percent reported by DoE.

“The city school system needs to sharpen its pencils when it comes to knowing which kids are dropping out and which kids are transferring to another school,” said DiNapoli. “DoE should be doing its homework and making sure the right papers are turned in to back up the reasons why students are leaving school.”

High school graduation and dropout rates are regarded as important indicators of a school’s effectiveness.

While the audit considered reported rates within 5 percent of audited rates to be generally accurate, the difference means that the graduation rate and discharge rate include thousands of students who actually dropped out.

DiNapoli’s auditors attribute the discrepancy to DoE’s erroneous classification of dropout students as having been “discharged” from high school. Discharged students should only be categorized as such when they transfer to another school or another educational program, leave the country, or are deceased.

DiNapoli’s auditors examined DoE’s discharge records for its 2004-08 general education cohort (the group of students who entered ninth grade in 2004 and were expected to graduate four years later), and found that in a random sample of 500 “discharged” students, 74 (14.8 percent) didn’t have the required documentation. As a result, all 74 should have been classified as dropouts.

Projecting the results of the sample to the entire cohort, DiNapoli’s auditors found that the correct graduation rate for the cohort was between 62.9 and 63.6 percent, rather than the 65.5 percent reported by DoE, and the correct dropout rate was between 15.5 and 16.5 percent, rather than the 13.0 percent reported by DoE. At some individual high schools, the correct graduation rates could be lower, and the correct dropout rates higher, than DoE reported.

According to DoE, the city’s 2004-08 general education cohort had a total of 88,612 students, of whom 46,896 graduated, 15,368 were still enrolled after four years, 17,025 were discharged, and 9,323 dropped out.

DiNapoli’s auditors also examined DoE’s discharge classifications for its 2004-08 special education cohort and identified similar errors. Auditors estimated that the correct graduation rate for this cohort was between 8.9 and 9.3 percent, rather than the 9.7 percent reported by DoE, and the correct dropout rate was between 20.6 and 23.8 percent, rather than the 17.2 percent reported by DoE. Even with the identified error rate, the NYC graduation rate is trending upwards as reported by DoE.

DiNapoli recommended that DoE officials:
  • Ensure that DoE discharge guidelines fully align with New York State Education Department (SED) regulations;
  • Instruct all schools to adhere to the SED regulations for discharge classifications, and provide training in the regulations for school staff who administer discharges; and
  • Conduct periodic reviews of discharge classifications to determine whether they are being made and documented in accordance with SED regulations.
DoE officials generally agreed with DiNapoli’s recommendations and indicated they have taken action or will be taking action to implement them. Most notably, DoE’s guidelines were amended before the 2009-10 school year to better align with SED’s guidelines on required documentation to support a discharge classification. Click here for a copy of the report.

"We Are One" - Queens Solidarity Rally and March - April 4, 2011 04:00pm to 08:00pm

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Dr. King died in Memphis in April 1968. He was killed standing with sanitation workers who were fighting to form a union to bargain for a better life. They were demanding their dream of dignity, respect, and a pathway to the middle class.

In April 2011, that same dream--and those same rights and freedoms--are under attack in Madison and other state capitols. The American middle class is in danger, threatened by a corporate and political assault on the fundamental belief that if you work hard in this country, you deserve a good job with a decent wage, affordable health care and dignity in retirement.

That's why on April 4th in New York, we will rally to show that WE ARE ONE, from Memphis to Madison and beyond. We will remember Dr. King, rally for the rights of all workers, and march for the middle class.

Join Amalgamated Transit Union 1056, SEIU 32BJ, and South East Queens County Young Democrats, and The Jamaica Branch NAACP as we will meet at the Rallying point at 4:30 pm at the bus depot on Merrick Blvd. across from the Queens Public Library;

We will then March To 89th Ave; Go up 89th Ave; To Parsons Blvd.; To Jamaica Ave. to Grace Episcopal Church.

We will enter the church at approximately 6:00 pm.

Grace Episcopal Church, 155-15 Jamaica Avenue, Jamaica, NY 11432 Rev Darryl F. James

Rev. Darryl F. James and Min. Corey Terry will both preach a word, there will be music as well. This will begin at 6:30 - 8:00/8:30.

Sponsored by: City Councilman Leroy Comrie and a host of South East Queens elected officials.

Sponsored by:
Amalgamated Transit Union
Local 1056

Jamaica Bus Terminal
Queens, NY
89-11 Merrick Blvd btwn 89th and 90th Aves

I Give Up - Pay Anything... - The Daily Show with Jon Stewart - Comedy Central

As greedy public workers bankrupt states, America makes it harder for honest corporate citizens to create jobs."

Back and Forth: Ed Towns by Chris Bragg - City Hall News

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Rep. Ed Towns has been popping up in a lot of Google alerts lately. His son, Assembly Member Darryl Towns, just took a job in the Cuomo administration. His daughter is running to replace her brother. And the congressman wants to run for his son’s old district leader spot. All the while, the Dilans—Sen. Martin Dilan and his son, Council Member Erik Dilan—are angling to get those seats in their corner. Meanwhile, Assembly Member Hakeem Jeffries’ advisors have been making noise about Jeffries running for Congress against Towns. In an interview, Towns talked about his daughter’s political prospects, his training regimen for 2012 and one of his top legislative priorities: building more women’s bathrooms.

What follows is an edited transcript.

City Hall: Why run for district leader after three decades in Congress?
Ed Towns:
That little corner around there, we’ve sort of been the district leader of it for quite some time between me and Darryl, and, of course, Darryl is moving on, so I thought maybe I would just come back and help because that corner is sort of at the end of the borough and sometimes it’s forgotten. That’s basically the reason for it.

CH: Council Member Erik Dilan, who wants to run for district leader also, has argued that a younger person should be in the position. What do you make of that?
I think what the party needs is an experienced, stable hand. I think that’s very much what it needs, more than ever. I think that’s part of our problem today, not having a stable situation in our political organization. I’m concerned with the fact that people running for national office in the most populated Democratic county in the nation and people will run for national office and never come to Brooklyn. So I think that we need to have folks that need to be able to stop this from occurring. Can you imagine one of the most populated counties in the nation, that people run for national office and never come here? I’ve been around a little longer and have more contacts and ties around the nation than most people. I also think we need to bring the county organization together and I feel I can be helpful in that regard.

CH: The Dilans have also said your son’s Assembly seat should now be filled by a Hispanic and are running Council Member Dilan’s chief of staff Rafael Espinal. Do you buy into that logic?
I don’t have a problem with that—my daughter’s Hispanic. She’s from the Dominican Republic. She’s adopted. She’s been with us since she was six weeks old. So those kinds of arguments should be eliminated. It’s not something that I make a case of, but when people make statements like that, I have to respond.

CH: The Dilans say they will be in control of who gets the Democratic nomination for both the district leader and Assembly seat. Do you agree with that?
I think that’s logical, but that doesn’t stop us from running. You can go out and create a line and it’s a special election, there have been a lot of situations where people in a special election have won. Charlie Johnson ran up in the Bronx in a special election and won. Bobby Garcia ran for Congress in a special election on the Liberal Party line and won. When there’s nothing there but that race, the Democratic line is one you would always like to have, and I think you make your life a lot easier if you do have it. That does not stop us from going out and running. The name Towns is known in the district.

CH: Have you thought a name for the ballot line? The Towns line?
Save Our Children? There’s a lot of things that can be used. Rent’s Too Damn High and the Gas Too? [Laughs.]

CH: Are you planning on running for re-election to Congress in 2012?
Oh, I’m running. I feel good, I feel good. I know some people have mentioned my age, but I’ll take on whoever’s mentioning my age. If they want to have a track race, I’ll race with them on foot, I’ll take that. And I really mean that, whoever it is. You just tell them I’m prepared to give them a foot race, a contest to see how many hours we can go in a day. Whatever.

CH: You’re in training?
Oh yeah. I enjoy what I’m doing. It’s hard to beat somebody who enjoys what they’re doing.

CH: Assembly Member Hakeem Jeffries is looking at running for your seat. Does that worry you?
That’s one of the weaknesses of democracy—that people are able to run against me. But no, no, I have no problem with that. If people are eager, that’s it. But would I be worried? Absolutely not. I mean, really. I’ve represented this district 29 years. And I’m prepared to take on whoever or whatever. And I’m the kind of guy who’s had a lot of races throughout the years.

CH: Jeffries is seen as an up-and-comer though…
I think he has a lot of potential. And I personally like him. But I understand how politics go. That doesn’t stop him from being eager or wanting to take my place or thinking I should retire when I don’t want to.

CH: Charles Barron is also talking about running, what do you think about that?
The more the merrier. If you hear of anybody else, tell them, ‘Come on.’

CH: Was it difficult losing your spot chairing the House Oversight Committee, and then your spot as ranking member?
No, no. All my advisors and all my immediate staff felt that I should get back to Energy and Commerce. Because when you’re the ranking member on the Oversight Committee, you really have no say. Being on the Energy and Commerce committee is one of the most prestigious committees in the United States Congress. Fifty-five percent of all legislation in the House goes through that committee.

CH: What issues are you working on right now?
We’re still looking at the student athletes’ right to know, in terms of the college and universities reporting college graduation rates with athletes. Because what had happened in many instances is that you have young people who sign up with a university and have no chance of graduating. In fact, some schools have gone 10 or 20 years without graduating an athlete. So making sure athletes or anyone advising them have the information that anyone advising them knows, that in the letter offering them a scholarship to the university, they have to put that information in. We’re working on a bill called bathroom parity, which is very important. That’s making sure any building funded with government dollars has an a comparable amount of bathrooms for women. You see women standing in long lines to go to the ladies room and we need to correct that. In the old days, women didn’t go to sporting events and things like that, so therefore, they didn’t provide for them. Up until a few months ago they didn’t even have a bathroom for women on the floor of the House of Representatives. So we’re looking at issues like that that are very, very important.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand: The Right Priorities for Our Working Families - The Huffington Post

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The 2010 election was a mandate for one thing: creating jobs and strengthening our economy for the long term. I heard that message loud and clear from New York families in every corner of our state, and I am working with my colleagues in Congress on solutions that will help create good-paying jobs and get the economy moving again for everyone.
But, instead of focusing on rebuilding the economy, House Republicans have unleashed an extreme ideological attack on America's women and working families with HR 1, the first bill they introduced this Congress.
The House-passed bill slashed critical funding for prenatal care, including $750 million from nutrition programs for pregnant women and infant children.
It denies more than 5 million American women access to breast and cervical cancer screenings that could potentially save their lives.
Their budget cuts affect early childhood education deeply -- cutting more than $1 billion from Head Start, and nearly $40 million from child care, depriving nearly 370,000 children from the early learning needed to put them on a path to a bright future.
And despite the overwhelming demand from the American people for Democrats and Republicans to work together to invest in job creation policies, House Republicans slashed nearly $1.5 billion from the job training programs we need to prepare America's workforce for the jobs of today and the high-tech jobs of tomorrow.
But, more than these dollar figures and the irresponsible budgeting and priorities from Republicans, this debate is about the working families who rely on these resources to make ends meet each day. From the single mother who will no longer be able to provide nutritious meals for her young children to the young woman in who will no longer have access to the early cancer screenings that could save her life to our children who will never walk through the doors of a university years from now because the doors to early education are being closed to them today. We cannot slash and burn our way to a healthy society and a thriving economy.
These are the wrong priorities for New York and the wrong policies for America.
Instead of marginalizing women, Congress must get to work on policies that can foster job creation and fuel economic growth. I have a range of proposals that can help get us there.
I have authored legislation that empowers more women and minority-owned businesses with the resources to help guide these budding entrepreneurs to be leaders of our economy, opening up access to the credit they desperately need to get their businesses off the ground.
I have also authored legislation to support the increase of young girls and minorities in the fields of math and science to generate the leaders we need in emerging high-tech industries that will be the future of our economy.
I'm fighting to make childcare more affordable for working parents so they can continue working and advancing their careers, closing wage gaps that for too long have held women back from the fair economic opportunities they need.
And, as our troops return home from Iraq and Afghanistan, and our women veterans become one of the fastest growing segments of the homeless veteran population, I'm partnering with businesses and working to provide them with tax credits in exchange for hiring recent veterans so our heroes have better access to good-paying jobs after serving our country.
These are the priorities that I am urging my Republican colleagues to join me on. And we can all do our part -- because this debate isn't just happening in the halls of Congress. It's happening in each and every one of our communities, at kitchen tables and living rooms, in our schools and in our churches. It's up to all of us to get off the sidelines and join the effort to protect our families and the resources that keep our communities safe, healthy and thriving.
We will not stand for this attack on America's women and working families.
It's time to focus on real solutions that will create jobs and build our economy for real strength and stability -- not just for the fortunate few, but for every American.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

News from Assembly Member Audrey Pheffer...

Assemblywoman Pheffer Welcomes Queens County American Legion to Albany - March 24, 2011

(Pictured l-r: James Casey, Past NYS Department Commander; Assemblywoman Pheffer; Denis McEneaney, Past Department of NY Vice Commander and John Severa, Commander 10th District)

Assemblywoman Audrey I. Pheffer (D-Queens) was pleased to welcome the Queens County American Legion members to Albany to discuss their legislative agenda for 2011.

The Queens County American Legion members were in Albany as part of the New York State American Legion Legislative Day.

Statement from Assemblywoman Audrey I. Pheffer Regarding Recent Incidents of Bias - March 24, 2011

I am dismayed and saddened upon learning of the incidents of bias that have occurred in the area over the past two days. It is disheartening to see such acts of prejudice that demonstrate a complete disregard for the struggles and sacrifices endured by others. I am confident that the officers of the 106th Precinct will do all that is in their power to identify and bring to justice those responsible for these despicable acts,” said Assemblywoman Audrey I. Pheffer.

Assemblywoman Pheffer Congratulates Regent Kathleen M. Cashin - March 14, 2011

(Pictured l-r: Regent Kathleen M. Cashin and Assemblywoman Pheffer)

Assemblywoman Audrey I. Pheffer (D-Queens) was pleased to congratulate Regent Kathleen M. Cashin on her recent election to the Board of Regents. Regent Cashin has served the students of New York City for over 40 years prior to her election. Regent Cashin was the regional superintendent for Region 5 which included Community School District #27. She will serve as a Regent for the 2nd Judicial District.

Assemblywoman Pheffer Joins with Senator Flanagan To Provide Women With The Tools Needed For Early Detection Of Breast Cancer - March 9, 2011
Assemblywoman Audrey I. Pheffer (D-Queens) is pleased to announce that she has joined with Senator John Flanagan to introduce legislation that would provide stronger preventative health care for women. The legislation requires insurance companies to cover the cost of supplemental screening for women who have dense breast tissue or who are at greater risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer.

The legislation would also require that every report a radiologist issues to a patient following a mammogram include information on breast density and information on the availability and usefulness of further screenings. This information will empower women to be more informed about their own medical situation so that they are better equipped to speak with their physicians and make decisions about their own health care.

According to leading medical studies, breast cancer is five times more likely in women with dense breast tissue but mammograms alone miss up to 40% of tumors that are present in women with dense breast tissue. By requiring insurance companies to cover supplemental screening tools and doctors to notify their patients of increased risk associated with dense breast tissue, it is believed that this will lead to earlier detection and greater survival rates.

Breast Cancer has touched the lives of so many New Yorkers. It is important that we enact this legislation to ensure that women have access to the life-saving tools available, and are armed with all the information possible to fight against this disease,” said Assemblywoman Pheffer.

The legislation was spurred when the legislators were contacted by Ms. JoAnn Pushkin of Dix Hills, a breast cancer survivor turned advocate and co-founder of D.E.N.S.E. (Density Education National Survivors’ Effort). Ms. Pushkin’s cancer was diagnosed later than necessary as her annual mammograms were unable to detect a tumor through dense breast tissue. Ms. Pushkin worked closely with Senator Flanagan’s office to write the legislation and continues to work with him to make sure that the measure becomes law in New York State.

JoAnn has been a tireless advocate for this legislation and I look forward to working with her and others to get this legislation passed in New York State,” said Senator Flanagan. “Women throughout our state should have the right to access all relevant medical information and our state has an obligation to make sure that those rights are protected.”

When women aren’t told about their own breast density, and its inherent risk, we are denied the opportunity and choice to protect and advocate for ourselves. If early detection saves lives is still the golden rule, it is a safety net often denied women with dense breasts. It’s hard to protect yourself against what you haven’t even been told is a threat. It’s impossible to begin a dialog about additional screening tools if you don’t even know you should be asking about it. No one, especially any doctor involved in my health care, should have the option to keep any pertinent health information about me, from me. New York women owe much to Senator Flanagan and Assemblywoman Pheffer for bringing public awareness to this issue and for their efforts in introducing this groundbreaking legislation,” said Ms. Pushkin.

The State of Connecticut is currently the only state in the nation that requires this coverage. “With this life-saving legislation, the state of New York will be joining Connecticut to ensure that women are informed of their breast density for the early detection of breast cancer. A recent Harris Interactive survey found that 95% of women do not know their breast density even though it is a risk factor, and, only one in 10 women find out about breast density from their physician. With this legislation women will now receive critical information about their breast density and have access to reliable screening tools to find cancer when most treatable and the survival rate is high. The women of D.E.N.S.E. and I never had that opportunity,” added Dr. Nancy M. Cappello, President and Founder of Are You Dense, Inc. (, co-founder of D.E.N.S.E. and the inspiration behind Connecticut’s legislation.

Assemblywoman Pheffer Welcomes Persaud Family to Albany – March 11, 2011

(Pictured l-r: Mr. & Mrs. Persaud, Assemblywoman Pheffer, Nadia Persaud and her Grandmother)

Assemblywoman Audrey I. Pheffer (D-Queens) was pleased to welcome to Albany Nadia Persaud from M.S. 137-Q in Ozone Park, NY accompanied by her parents and grandmother on March 2, 2011. Nadia was selected by the New York Art Teachers Association to be a part of the 21st Statewide Legislative Student Art Exhibit.

Also selected was Chistopher Poveda of M.S. 137-Q who was unable to make the trip to Albany. The Art Teacher who submitted their art work is Rose Aranya.