Tag Archives: Andrew Hevesi

More funding secured to upgrade outdated freight locomotives

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com


Extra funds are coming down the track from Albany to clean up some of the state’s dirtiest diesel locomotives.

Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi, along with other elected officials, civic organizations and the New York League of Conservative Voters, announced that $3 million was secured in the 2015 state budget to continue a program to overhaul old, state-owned freight locomotives.

This funding comes after Hevesi previously secured $6 million in the 2013 and 2014 state budgets. That money has already been put into retrofitting two locomotives of the 11-car fleet at Glendale’s Fresh Pond Railyard, which are set to roll out this December.

According to a source close to the situation, the first two locomotives, which received funding for upgrades during the last two years, were delayed getting their enhancements due to contract disputes with the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), which owns the railyard but leases it to the New York and Atlantic Railway. The two train cars went in for their scheduled upgrades this past summer and will be set to go by the end of the year.

“With this additional state funding, and the first two overhauled freight locomotives expected to come on-line later this year, it is encouraging that great strides are being made to fight for, and protect, the health of countless families in the boroughs of New York and on Long Island,” Hevesi said.

Retrofitting diesel freight engines was a top transportation and environmental priority in the Fiscal Year 2013, 2014 and 2015 Assembly budgets. The request was supported and signed by over 60 members of the Assembly, and received bipartisan support in both chambers of the legislature.

“I am very pleased that the new state budget includes an additional $3 million that will be used to continue a program to upgrade the engines of antiquated LIRR freight locomotives,” Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said. “This program will improve the lives of Queens residents by reducing the unhealthy nitrogen oxide emissions and curbing the unpleasant noise pollution generated by the locomotives’ existing diesel engines.”

The train cars are currently equipped with antiquated engines which are up to the standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for 1970s locomotives and give off toxic emissions. These outdated trains operate throughout Brooklyn, Long Island and Queens, and specifically at the Fresh Pond Railyard.

“This funding gives us greater ammunition in the fight for our constituents’ quality of life and I am thrilled we can continue to see the progress in overhauling the antiquated freight locomotives,” state Senator Joseph Addabbo said. “This benefits people near and far to the rail tracks — allowing those close to be less disturbed by train rumblings and those all around to allow more fresh, clean air into their lungs.”

The continued funding of this program will allow for a third freight locomotive to be upgraded to meet the current EPA Tier 4 emissions standards. The EPA Tier 4 standards are some of the highest in the country since the EPA changed their emission standards in 2000.

The enhancements to this third train car is expected to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions — a known byproduct of diesel engines linked to respiratory diseases — by up to 76 percent per year, or the equivalent of 120 tons of emissions over 10 years.


Cuomo cracks down on public corruption

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Governor Cuomo's Flickr


In light of several recent political scandals, including the arrests of Queens legislators Malcolm Smith and Dan Halloran, Governor Andrew Cuomo is cracking down on corruption.

He announced the Public Trust act on Tuesday, April 9, which would make it easier to convict wrongdoers of public corruption under broader legal definitions.

“Preventing public corruption is essential to ensuring that government works and can effectively keep the public’s trust,” said Cuomo. “The Public Trust Act recognizes that crimes of public corruption should be treated more seriously than other white-collar crimes because when they break the law, they also break the public trust that the people have placed in government.”

Crimes expanded under the new legislation include bribery of a public servant, defrauding the government and failure to report public corruption.

The Public Trust Act would also limit immunity for witnesses testifying before a grand jury investigating official misconduct or government fraud.

“We welcome these important new tools that Governor Cuomo is proposing today. They will strengthen our laws and make it possible for prosecutors to more effectively investigate and prosecute public corruption,” said District Attorney Richard Brown.

If they’re found guilty of corruption-related offenses, legislators or associates will face tougher jail sentences.
Anyone convicted would also be prohibited them from “holding any elected or civil office, lobbying, contracting, receiving state funding, or doing business with the state, directly or through an organization.”

Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi, who chairs the chamber’s Oversight, Analysis and Investigation Committee, told Community Board 9 on April 9 that the Smith debacle was “one of the stupidest scandals” he ever saw.

Hevesi, whose father, Alan, is on parole after being convicted on a “pay-to-play” scandal, said Cuomo’s reforms would do away with government loopholes.

“Part of the reform that Governor Cuomo has brought today is called ending the Wilson Pakula system,” Hevesi said.

“When you’re talking about checks and balances for a bad system, the governor announced today that that’s one of the things he’s looking at.”

The Wilson Pakula Certificate requires three of the five borough party chiefs to approve a candidate from another party to run for office as a member of their own party. In Smith’s case, the Democrat needed the green light from three Republican party chairs.

Hevesi’s committee will soon push for its own legislation that will help investigate the misuse of state funds or poor behavior by elected officials. Because the last few chairs had short tenures on the committee, Hevesi said it’s been hard to get long-term legislation put through.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo, in a statement, said the legislation put forth by Cuomo was long-awaited but the first step.

Addabbo testified before the Attorney General earlier this year on the need for campaign finance reform – another effort to help clean up Albany and party politics.

“It shouldn’t take a number of recently-arrested elected officials to wake up the Legislature to enact tougher ethics and anti-corruption laws. In Albany, it’s long overdue,” Addabbo said. “I am hopeful that the State Legislature expands on these proposals and explores other means of addressing the issue, such as passing campaign finance reform, along with other pending legislative measures.”



Former Comptroller Alan Hevesi released after 20 months in prison

| brennison@queenscourier.com

File photo

After serving 20 months behind bars for a pay-to-play scandal, former city and state Comptroller Alan Hevesi was released from prison with more than two years remaining on his sentence.

The disgraced politician received the maximum four-year sentence in April 2011 after pleading guilty to corruption charges involving the state’s pension fund. Hevesi accepted $1 million worth of gifts in exchange for investing more than $250 million in a pension fund run by Elliott Broidy.

Hevesi, who had been serving his time at the Mid-State Correctional Facility in Oneida County, was granted his freedom by the parole board last month and will remain on parole until April 2015.

“My entire family is very happy he is coming home,” said Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi, one of Alan’s three children. “We have missed him.”

The 72 year old was successful in his second appearance before the parole after being denied his release last year.

Hevesi told the board during his parole hearing in November that during his first year in prison he was in denial and attempted to minimize his transgressions.

“Maybe this is wrong, but I willfully turned away from [the crimes] and decided not to inquire, I allowed it to happen and that is why I am in prison and that is why I did not challenge it, because, you know what, I am guilty,” he said.

NYPD combats bullying

| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Hevesi-NYPD School Bullyingw

The New York Police Department (NYPD) is aiming to take the fight out of bullies.
Officers of the NYPD Community Outreach Division joined Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi at P.S. 144 in Forest Hills on October 24 to present a police program designed to combat bullying in schools across the city.
“Bullying is a real problem, and it can’t be ignored,” said Hevesi. “The NYPD did an outstanding job engaging the students in a discussion about bullying. The officers related to the students as they performed, and made them feel the emotional consequences of bullying.”
The socio-drama program allowed the school’s fifth grade students to interact and engage the officers as they acted out various scenarios involving bullying, including physical and verbal intimidation and cyber-harassment. Suicide was also covered during the presentation.
The officers concluded their performance by encouraging students who witness or personally experience tormenting by bullies to inform an adult.
The presentation was part of the NYPD’s student outreach program, which has been operating for the past five years. The outreach program also addresses gang violence, youth dating violence, smoking, drinking, drugs and peer pressure.
“We want to bring awareness about the topical issues students are facing that may impact crime or school safety,” said Sergeant Dwayne Palmer, a member of the NYPD School Safety Division: Community Outreach Unit. “Bullying has been around forever. But now kids can’t turn it off when they go home. With the advent of social media, kids may be more sensitive. It’s on their computers and it’s on their cell phones. We want to create awareness and dialogues about the issues kids are facing, because they may not know how to deal with it.”
More than 130,000 cases of bullying were reported across the five boroughs during the 2008-2009 school year. Based on these figures, one in every 10 students has experienced bullying.
“We work in partnership with the NYPD and community groups to ensure our schools offer safe, educational environments for our students,” said a Department of Education (DOE) spokesperson. “The NYPD Community Outreach Program supplements the work the DOE is doing in our schools.”
In an effort to quell peer persecution, Hevesi hopes to introduce the NYPD’s program to schools across his district, as well as involve parents in his preventative plans.
“Bullying is preventable and we need to start treating it that way,” Hevesi said. “It is important for students to learn about bullying at school, but I also want parents to get involved. Being able to detect the signs of bullying and giving the proper advice to deal with the situation is something parents must be prepared for. I plan to organize workshops with the NYPD for parents that want to learn the best ways to discuss bullying with their children.”