Tag Archives: Assemblymember Rory Lancman

City Council District 24 candidate Andrea Veras kicks off campaign


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Andrea Veras

City Council candidate Andrea Veras kicked off her campaign with dozens of supporters on August 3.

The Briarwood activist and paralegal is vying to replace term-limited Councilmember James Gennaro in the 24th District, which stretches from Fresh Meadows to Jamaica.

“Improving the living conditions of my community has always been my passion,” Veras said, “and I want to bring a fresh perspective to city management, transparency and leadership to all the communities comprised in District 24.”

Veras, a single mother of three, immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic in 1990.

She said she wants to get youngsters interested in their education and community events and create affordable housing and healthcare programs.

Veras will run against former Assemblymember Rory Lancman and Mujib Rahman in the Democratic primary on September 10. The winner will face off with Republican candidate Alex Blishteyn in the general election.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Martha Taylor withdraws City Council bid


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

An ailing Jamaica Estates lawyer has rescinded her bid for City Council.

Martha Taylor, 72, announced late Monday she will no longer run for a vacant council seat in the 24th District due to “recent health concerns” that would disrupt campaigning.

“I am stepping out of this race, but my fight for our community is far from over,” she said. “It was a hard decision. Hopefully I’ll be perfectly fine, but I can’t take the chance.”

Taylor would not comment further on the illness, but told The Courier she is going through “exploratory” medical testing. Doctors advised her not to run.

“I really wanted to win this thing, but when you run for an election like this, you really have to do a lot of doorbell ringing and walking around the whole district,” Taylor said. “It’s not fair for me to start out and not finish.”

Taylor is the Democratic District Leader in the 24th Assembly District, president of the Jamaica Estates Association and vice chair of Community Board 8. She expects a full recovery, an aide said.

Former assemblymember Rory Lancman and retired scientist Isaac Sasson are still in the running for the seat. Other candidates are expected to enter the primary.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

 

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Heat Advisory To Remain In Effect For Thursday

As a heat advisory remains in effect for Thursday, Con Edison is urging customers to conserve energy. The utility reduced voltage in dozens of neighborhoods in Queens and Brooklyn as a precaution to protect equipment and maintain service while crews fix electrical problems. Read more: [NY1]

Campaign 2012 Notebook: Queens Congressional candidates jockey for votes as primary nears

With the June 26 primary just days away, the four Democrats hoping to become the nominee for Queens’ Sixth Congressional District are busy trying to get people to the polls. While rain is generally the biggest detriment to voter turnout, the unusual late June primary poses a different question: Will potential voters want to spend any part of a sunny June day at the polls? Read more: [New York Daily News]  

20-year-old man plunges to his death from elevated subway platform in Queens

An inebriated 20-year-old man jumped to his death from an elevated subway platform in Queens Wednesday night, fire and police sources said. The young man bolted from a stalled A train at the Beach 90th St. station in Rockaway Beach around 8 p.m., the sources said. The conductor saw the victim — who may have been trying to hop to a nearby rooftop and scale a fence when he suddenly dropped, the sources added. Read more: [New York Daily News]  

Police searching for missing 5-year-old Queens boy: report

Police are looking for a 5-year-old boy in Queens this morning, ABC 7 reported. According to the report, the boy — who answers by the name of Zachary — walked out of his home on Rockaway Boulevard and 118th Street in South Ozone Park at about 1:30 a.m. Read more: [New York Post]  

Arvind Mahankali, Daily News finalist in National Spelling Bee, awarded City Council Citation  

Twelve-year-old Arvind Mahankali, of Bayside Hills, was awarded a New York City Council Citation for advancing to the finals in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The seventh-grader, who placed third in his third appearance at the event, received the citation from City Councilmen Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) and Daniel Halloran (R-Whitestone) during a ceremony held Monday, June 18, at Nathaniel Hawthorne Middle School 74. Read more: [New York Daily News]  

Resorts Casino Raking In Slot Machine Revenue

The Resorts World Casino says it is raking in more money from slot machines than any other gambling hub in the country. Watch video: [NY1]

Social Security at center of 6th District contention


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Rory Lancman

A congressional candidate — who dubbed himself the sole fighter for the Millionaire’s Tax last week — set himself apart from his Democratic primary opponents once more by saying he is “the only candidate” in the race with a real plan to save Social Security.

“Social Security is in crisis,” said Assemblymember Rory Lancman, who is vying for the heavily-contested and newly-redrawn 6th District seat. “There are other candidates in the race who don’t seem to believe so. They think it’s something that we don’t need to address right away. They don’t see the imminence of the problem.”

According to Lancman, Social Security will run out of money in 2033 and will only be able to make about three-fourths of obligated payments at that time.

He said his proposal to lift the exemption on Social Security taxes for individuals with incomes over $110,600 would force “high-income earners to pay their fair share” into the Social Security fund. Scrapping the cap, Lancman said, would guarantee the program’s solvency for the next 75 years.

“That is what is bankrupting Social Security,” he said before taking swipes at his two major primary challengers, Assemblymember Grace Meng and Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley. “The challenge facing Social Security is immediate and severe, and so far I’m the only candidate in this race that has offered a real plan to save Social Security without reducing benefits, raising the retirement age or privatizing Social Security altogether.”

Meng said her plans were geared towards reaching a long-term solution. She said while the fund would definitely be able to pay benefits until 2033, she agreed Congress needs to take action before that.

“The most important thing right now is to ensure that we do whatever we can to stimulate job and economic growth so that in the long run there will be more people paying into the fund,” Meng said. “My point is not that we’re not taking action — it’s that we have to do whatever we can to increase the funds right now.”

Crowley also fired back at her challenger, saying the cap lift would increase taxes on the middle class and small businesses — not high-income earners. She said her plan is to put people back to work and “keep Republicans from cutting Social Security.”

“Raising taxes on the middle class and on small businesses is exactly what we don’t need to help Social Security. I’m sorry that Mr. Lancman thinks that it is a good idea,” Crowley said.

Lancman received a blow of his own from a local religious leader who sent out a “special clarification” last week, saying he was not endorsing the candidate’s policies or run for Congress after his photo was published without permission or notice in Lancman’s recent legislative mailer.

Reverend Thomas Pettei, a pastor at St. Nicholas of Tolentine R.C. Church in Jamaica, declined to comment, but said the letter speaks for itself.

“What upset me was that this mailing included a picture of me with Assemblyman Lancman, standing in front of our church,” Pettei wrote in the letter. “I simply want to make it clear that in no way should this be interpreted as any kind of endorsement of the Assemblyman’s policies or of his current campaign for Congress.”

The mailer was titled “Keeping our Houses of Worship Safe” and referred to legislation Lancman has proposed. Pettei also pointed to disagreements the Catholic Church and Lancman have on several issues as a reason for his concerns.

Meng recently received the endorsement of the New York League of Conservation Voters and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Leadership PAC, while Crowley gained boosts from the Uniformed EMTs, Paramedics and Fire Inspectors FDNY Local 2507 and Uniformed EMS Officers Union Local 3621.

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

State Supreme Court Judge Claims NYPD Officer Attacked Him

A State Supreme Court Judge claims that he was attacked by a police officer in Queens Friday night. Thomas Raffaele said he saw a scuffle between two police officers and another man handcuffed on the ground Friday night. Read more: [NY1]

Queens Women On Alert As NYPD Seeks Suspect In Violent Sex Attacks

Police are asking for the public’s help in finding a suspect wanted for sexual abuse, rape and robbery — all in the Forest Hills section of Queens.  The news has women in the neighborhood on alert. Read more: [1010WINS]

Queens bar installs regulation size basketball half-court 

A Forest Hills watering hole is giving new meaning to the term sports bar. Cobblestones Pub on Queens Blvd. has created a regulation-size half basketball court behind their establishment, raising the bar for what is considered a traditional parlor game. Read more: [New York Daily News]

Woman with blood disorder meets blood donor for first time 

When 37-year-old Radhika Sawh finally met one of the hundreds of anonymous donors who keep her alive, she shed tears for those who had shed blood for her. Read more: [New York Daily News]  

Belmont Stakes Favorite Draws 11th Spot; Strike Threat Averted

There was a gasp among some, but I’ll Have Another’s trainer, Doug O’Neill, seemed happy with the horse’s post position for the Belmont Stakes. I’ll Have Another was on the outside for the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. So will a third outside position at post 11 be the key to the 12th Triple Crown racing history? Read more: [NY1]

Queens rivals for Congress duke it out for credit 

The only thing harder than getting something done in Albany is getting credit for it. So after New York State succeeded in making millionaires pay more in taxes, Assemblywoman Grace Meng’s supporters were furious when her rival in the race for Congress, Assemblyman Rory Lancman, sent out a mailing claiming he was “the only one who fought for the Millionaire’s Tax in the Assembly so the ultra-wealthy pay their fair share.” Read more: [New York Daily News]

Red Storm Baseball Prepares For Super Regionals

The St. John’s Red Storm baseball team is preparing for a date in the NCAA Super Regionals against Arizona. Watch video: [NY1]

6th District candidates Meng and Lancman trade jabs over Millionaire’s Tax


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Two democratic congressional contenders traded jabs with each other after one candidate dubbed himself the sole fighter for the Millionaire’s Tax.

In his mailed literature (pictured below), Assemblymember Rory Lancman — who is vying for the newly-redrawn 6th District seat — said he is “the only one” in the race “who fought for the Millionaire’s Tax in the Assembly so the ultra-wealthy pay their fair share.” Attempts to plant his flag on the measure’s passage angered colleague and opponent Assemblymember Grace Meng, who claims to be the champion for the middle class, according to her camp.

“While Rory Lancman was busy relishing in his self-promotion, Grace Meng was in Albany building bridges with her colleagues and negotiating the agreement that actually delivered real tax relief for struggling, middle-class families in Queens,” said Meng’s spokesperson, Austin Finan.

The Millionaire’s Tax was passed last December after legislative leaders voted in favor of it during a special session held less than a month before the state’s temporary surcharge was set to expire. The measure creates a higher tax bracket for highest-income residents and reduces the tax rate for millions of middle-class residents.

Finan said Meng, a tax equity supporter, not only pushed for the measure, but stood “front and center” at a Millionaire’s Tax rally held at City Hall last year in October. He also said she penned several statements and op-eds in support of it.

But Lancman’s spokesperson, Eric Walker, boasted of Lancman’s efforts, including writing an op-ed last year in the New York Daily News — and a column in the Huffington Post — and taking the same fight to Fox Business Channel and Capital Tonight. Walker said Lancman called for tax fairness back in 2008 — before Meng was even elected.

“Rory was the only one in this race who fought for the millionaire’s tax — that’s a fact,” Walker said. “If Meng was a leader in the fight for tax fairness, it must have been a top-secret operation.”

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver remained neutral in the standoff, saying “many members were strong advocates in our fight to extend the Millionaire’s Tax, including both Grace Meng and Rory Lancman.”

Meng was recently endorsed by the National Troopers Coalition, the Police Benevolent Association of the New York State Troopers, the New York Chapter of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance and the Bangladeshi American Community Council, while Lancman received boosts from The Jewish Press and former Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum. Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, another candidate in the four-way Democratic primary, gained the support of Communication Workers of America Local 1101.

Meanwhile, the only citizen candidate in the primary race, Dr. Robert Mittman — a Bayside allergist — recently unveiled his own “Social Security Rescue Plan” and pledged to close the “Medicare doughnut hole” with federal budget savings. He proposed cutting military spending by at least 30 percent, fully eliminating the cap on taxable earnings and said millionaires and billionaires should pay their fair share of earnings to the Social Security Fund.

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Eight Kilos Of Cocaine Seized In Jackson Heights House

Two men were arrested after more than eight kilograms of cocaine were seized from a home in Jackson Heights, Queens last month. Officials say the drugs were found in an apartment on 81st Street month during an investigation by state police. Read more: [NY1]

Small Mexican town of Tenancingo is major source of sex trafficking pipeline to New York

In this small Mexican town that sends sex slaves to New York, little boys dream of growing up to be pimps. Gaudy gabled houses that rise above gated walls are proof of the profits to be made from funneling “delivery girls” to Roosevelt Ave. in Queens. Read more: [New York Daily News]

Organized crime: ‘Coke den’ neat freaks’ closet stash

They probably didn’t get the idea from Martha Stewart Living. Two thugs were cooking up more than dinner when police stormed their Queens drug den — and discovered more than 18 pounds of cocaine stashed in an oven and a dresser, authorities said yesterday. Read more: [New York Post]

Flushing is not the only place the Mormon church wants to build big 

A controversial plan to build a large Mormon church in Flushing will get a second hearing before a key city panel on Tuesday. But a look at the church’s construction plans from around the nation shows that Queens isn’t the only place it is seeking permission to build up to the heavens. Read more: [New York Daily News]

Mets’ Johan Santana To Get A Couple Extra Days’ Rest

After making history with a no-hitter game this past Friday, Mets ace pitcher Johan Santana will get a couple of extra days rest, as team officials are worried about the stress on his arm. Santana is coming off surgery that put him on the shelf for more than a year. Read more: [NY1]

Congressional hopefuls tout endorsements

Assemblyman and congressional hopeful Rory Lancman will be endorsed by former Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum on Tuesday. Lancman will make the announcement in conjunction with a statement about educational policies, including a push for more teacher training and smaller class sizes. Read more: [New York Daily News] 

6th District candidates debate hot-button issues


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The six 6th District congressional candidates mildly duked it out for the first time during a forum in Flushing — addressing hot-button city, state and national issues, like plans to fix the flailing economy and stances on immigration reform.

The hopefuls — Green Party’s Evergreen Chou, Democratic primary runners Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, Assemblymember Rory Lancman, Assemblymember Grace Meng and Dr. Robert Mittman, and Republican contender Councilmember Dan Halloran — split the roughly two-hour meeting, held at Flushing Library on May 21, to introduce themselves and explain the platforms for which they are running.

Each lauded his or her experience, with the elected officials pointing to their plans on advocating for the middle class and improving education, Social Security and the job market, while the two citizen candidates — Chou and Mittman — respectively pushed for peace and change.

The forum was hosted by the MinKwon Center for Community Action. The congressional contenders remained civil, with minor disagreements stemming mostly from the differences between Republican and Democratic philosophies on the economy.

Halloran said the key to reviving the economy and creating jobs is making sure the government “stays out of the way of businesses.” Citing that 98 percent of small businesses in New York have disappeared between 1840 and 2011, he said government should decrease the number of agencies businesses are held accountable to, re-evaluate its tax roles to make sure businesses that are job creators aren’t overtaxed and give incentives to businesses to hire more employees.

Lancman respectfully disagreed, saying deregulating government led to the Wall Street meltdown. He said Wall Street first needs to be reformed — “making it an engine of economic growth, not a potential minefield that could blow up the economy once again” — and small businesses should be provided support and access to credit.

Meng took a different approach and said she believes improving mass transit, highways, roads and bridges would help increase jobs for Queens residents. She also said maintaining “better and closer” partnerships with universities and hospitals would help make Queens a “technology hub” and would stem job growth.

Chou said building more hospitals and engaging in government programs would revive the economy, while Crowley said pulling government spending on Afghanistan would give the country more money to use. Mittman backed Halloran, saying government should be limited and small business should not be overtaxed.

Questions on immigration reform and enforcement directly tied into talks about racial discrimination, when candidates addressed the efficiency of Secure Communities — a federal program that prioritizes the removal of criminal aliens and repeat immigration violators — and the recent controversial stop and frisk policy.

Crowley — who said she believes in comprehensive immigration reform — said there is a fine line drawn if the illegal immigrant questioned is not a threat. She said she supported a local law passed in the City Council that prevented the Department of Corrections from imposing immigration detainers “on those that were not convicted of any crime and were not doing anything that was considered a serious crime.”

However, Halloran said “being in the country illegally is a crime” itself.

“You cannot reward someone who came here illegally with citizenship, but you can give them a path to permanent residency,” he said.

According to Halloran, illegal immigrants should fill out paperwork, pay the fees and be checked up on 10 years after they are granted permanent status to see that they are paying their taxes and not engaged in criminal activity. In regards to the stop and frisk policy and concerns of racial profiling, he said there is more of a correlation between economics and socio status than race.

While Lancman agreed people who commit serious crimes should not be welcomed in the country and said he is for comprehensive immigration reform, he said Secure Communities became “a mechanism for detaining and deporting” mostly law-abiding citizens and “created an atmosphere of fear and mistrust in immigrant communities.”

All six candidates opposed using local law enforcement to deal with immigration issues and said the role should lie in the federal government. They each also expressed support for pulling U.S. troops from overseas — however Halloran and Lancman raised serious concerns over whether or not doing so would gravely impact national security.

Crowley was recently endorsed by the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 3 and New York City Building and Construction Trades Council, while Meng picked up support from ATU Local No. 1056 and Lancman from the New York State Public Employees Federation.

Assemblymember Rory Lancman outlines plan to fight overdevelopment


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Assemblymember Rory Lancman outlined a comprehensive plan he designed to combat overdevelopment and said he would push the bill at a federal level if elected to Congress.

The four-part Homes and Essential Landmarks Preservation (HELP) Act — introduced by Lancman, who is running for Congress in the 6th District — focuses on extending tax credits to some homeowners and restricting the credits when violations are incurred, expanding the federal landmarking law and ensuring enforcement of zoning laws.

“Anyone who comes here to buy a home to live in and raise their family — they’re not just buying that home. They’re buying the neighborhood. They’re buying the way the neighborhood looks. They’re buying the way the neighborhood feels, and it is really a very tragic situation when a neighborhood’s fundamental character and feel changes because of overdevelopment,” Lancman said at the May 18 press conference held at Bowne Park.

More than one third of Queens has been rezoned since 2002 to protect the character of its residential neighborhoods, Lancman said, and R2A and R1-2A low-density zones have been created to thwart the growth of “McMansions.” Still, the assemblymember said overdevelopment remains a persistent problem in the borough.

He said increasing population density in already heavily congested areas leads to even more overcrowding in schools and roads, limits parking spaces and strains sewer systems.

The city government’s “lax approach” to enforcing zoning and building laws and collecting penalties from violations and other illegal activity, Lancman said, demands “a federal solution” to the problem.

The current tax code, Lancman said, allows both homeowners and businesses to quality for a host of deductions. If his legislation is federally introduced and passed, he said it would prohibit any homeowner or business from obtaining these tax credits if they are in violation of city zoning or building ordinances.

The bill would also extend tax incentives for rehabilitating non-income producing residential buildings that are listed on the National Historic Register, since only commercial and income-producing properties are currently eligible for the 20 percent tax credit.

Lancman said he hopes this will motivate homeowners to rehabilitate their homes instead of selling them to a developer “who would otherwise demolish them.” The provision, he said, would help preserve neighborhoods like Broadway-Flushing and Parkway Village, both listed on the National Register.

Lancman said the HELP Act would also address the city’s “dismal record” in collecting zoning and building violation fines by linking federal Housing and Urban Development funding to the city’s ability to collect fees.

Under the bill, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Personas Act (RLUIPA) would also be clarified to ensure that religious institutions do not use it as a shield to ignore zoning regulations. Lancman said RLUIPA has allowed excessive zoning exemptions for religious institutions, including seven in Queens since 2006.

Bill would alleviate train troubles for Middle Village residents


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Bob Holden

A congressional hopeful has joined the fight of residents who continue to rail against trains they say are disrupting their lives.

The Fresh Pond freight rail lines, operated by New York & Atlantic Railroad in Middle Village and Glendale, have long bothered residents that live adjacent to the tracks — especially those along 69th Place near the overpass.

“The trains pass through early in the morning, with 80 cars in tow banging,” said Anthony Pedalino who lives down the block from the tracks in Middle Village. “It wakes you up almost nightly.”

Joe Dalfino, who has lived next door to the tracks for 20 years, said the noise and fumes from the cars has picked up over the past few years. Train traffic picked up around five years ago when the railroad began carrying garbage through the area, residents claim.

In November, the company agreed to move the noisier aspects of the train 400 feet, though this has alleviated little of the noise, nearby residents said.

Residents still complain of waking up to early morning trains up to six days a week.

“For far too long, residents of this area have had to put up with the noise, the smell and the lack of security resulting from rail companies ignoring the community’s concerns and performing railroad yard activities outside the railroad yard,” said Assemblymember Rory Lancman, candidate for the 6th Congressional District.

Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, is concerned the disturbances will only get worse if garbage from an additional six community boards begins passing through, though this is currently under review.

Lancman intends to introduce legislation that will alleviate the suffering of the nearby residents if elected to Congress. The state and city have little to no power to regulate the railway.

His bill, the Neighborhood Rail Improvement Act, would prohibit railroad yard activities — coupling, decoupling and maintenance — from taking place on tracks outside of the railroad yard and give local residents input into yard operations

“I think the government needs to stand up for its residents,” said Pedalino. “It’s not just the railways, it’s the government that’s allowing the railways to do this.”

Noise is not the annoyance those living adjacent to the tracks deal with; residents complain of the odor emanating from train cars filled with garbage and the train’s diesel fumes.

During the summer, Pedalino said he must keep his windows closed and his air conditioner running due to the fumes and Dalfino said he can no longer use his backyard for barbecues.

“We need to institutionalize mechanisms for the community to have input, to require the railroads carrier, the agencies that oversee the railroad’s operations, to sit down with the community hear their concerns and give answers,” he said. “It’s through that process that the community is able to influence and shape the policies and practices of the railroad.”

Candidates pick up political endorsements


| mchan@queenscourier.com

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand recently picked up the endorsement of the New York State Democratic Committee for her try at re-election.

The senator, whose term expires this year, is running for her first full six-year term.

Vying for her seat, George Maragos — the current elected comptroller of Nassau County — gained the support of Queens County GOP Chair Phil Ragusa.

Maragos said he was “deeply honored and humbled by the endorsement” and decried the existing senator’s alleged inability to man her post.

Conservative lawyer Wendy Long and Congressmember Bob Turner are also in the running to try and defeat Gillibrand.

As for the congressional race, Assemblymember Grace Meng was recently endorsed by Councilmember James Gennaro to replace retiring U.S. Representative Gary Ackerman.

Meng was designated by the Queens County Democratic Organization on Monday, March 19 to contend for the recently vacated seat in the 6th Congressional District race.

“I unreservedly and wholeheartedly pledge my support to her candidacy for Congress,” Gennaro said. “Grace has terrific support in the community and the universal admiration of her colleagues for good reason — she is deeply committed, incredibly effective and a joy to work with.”

During the June 26 primary, Meng will face off with Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley and Assemblymember Rory Lancman, who formally announced his candidacy on the same day Meng officially received the support of Democratic leaders.

Councilmember Mark Weprin, who had previously expressed interest in making his own run at the seat, also said he backs Meng. Weprin had received the endorsement of former mayor Ed Koch to join the race, but said he decided, after further considerations, to stand down and support Meng instead.

Will Turner’s district disappear?


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

DISTRICT MAPw

A federal magistrate’s recent re-drawing of state congressional lines leaves Congressmember Bob Turner as the odd man out.

Magistrate Roanne Mann’s revised maps released on March 6 would eliminate Turner’s Brooklyn-Queens district and may reportedly force him to run for the same seat belonging to Congressmember Gregory Meeks in a Democratic and heavily African-American area.

According to published reports, State Senate GOP officials fought to protect Turner while Assembly Democrats pushed for his district to be eliminated.

“The redistricting plan introduced today by the Special Master is just another step in the process,” said Turner, who won a Special Election last year to fill the seat of disgraced Congressmember Anthony Weiner. “I am prepared to run in whatever district I reside in once the final lines are adopted.”

Mann was appointed by a panel of three federal judges to create a redistricting plan eliminating two of the state’s 29 congressional seats after legislative leaders were unable to come to an agreement. The elimination of the seats was reportedly mandatory due to national population shifts over the past decade.

The magistrate’s proposed map is not final however, as her draft is expected to boost talks between state legislative leaders who are now aware of the court’s direction.

If the legislators are unable to pass their own plan by March 12, Mann’s map will become final, due to the need for congressional candidates to choose what district they will run in before they begin circulating nominating petitions on March 20.

Congressmember Gary Ackerman has already come forward and announced he plans to run for re-election in the new Sixth Congressional District should the magistrate’s lines become final.

“The new Sixth Congressional District is a fantastic district in Queens where I grew up, went to public school and college, and started my family and my business,” Ackerman said. “It contains my political base and longtime roots, and I have had the privilege of representing approximately 90 percent of it during my 34 years in the State Senate and U.S. Congress.”

Assemblymember Rory Lancman, who represents the 25th Assembly District, has also stated he “looks forward to run for Congress when the lines are finalized.”

Maspeth church vandalized


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Vandals defaced a Maspeth church recently in what is being investigated as a hate crime.

Trinity-St. Andrews Lutheran Church on 60th Avenue was found vandalized on Wednesday, February 29 when the church’s pastor, Terrence Weber, arrived at the religious institution.

“As I was coming to the church’s office door I noticed a Star of David and in the star was a swastika,” the pastor said. “People being what they are today I knew exactly what it was.”

Weber circled the church and parish house searching for more signs of defacement. He discovered a Star of David with the words “Christ” and “Thor,” the tag “UG” with a bomb and a “pornographic scene” scrawled on the house of worship.

Police said they are investigating the vandalism as a hate crime.

“We are an aging congregation,” said Weber, who has been with the church for 18 years. “In my own mind there is no kind of vendetta people would have against us.”

Assemblymember Rory Lancman recently announced legislation that would provide greater protection to houses of worship.

The bill would increase the penalty for any damage to a religious institution from one year to a maximum of four years in prison.

Trinity-St. Andrews has been a pillar of the community since 1899.

This is the first time the church has had to deal with this kind of act, Weber said, adding that the church has a very good relationship with the community.

“Parishioners were numb [to the graffiti] because nothing in this day and age is sacred. It is a sign of the times,” Weber said. “It’s always somebody else, but when it comes to your backyard, you say, ‘I can’t believe it’s right here.’”

No arrests have been made. Repeated calls to the 104th Precinct went unanswered as of press time.

Religious relics stolen from Queens synagogue


| brennison@queenscourier.com

233-12 107 PCT BURGLARY

Police are seeking suspects they say stole more than a dozen religious relics from a Queens synagogue.

The robbery occurred at Congregation Rachel Degel Israel sometime between Saturday, February 18 and Saturday, February 25, officials said.

The items removed were 3 silver Torah crowns, 2 silver Torah mini-crowns, 3 silver Torah breastplates, 4 silver Torah points and a silver cup.

Assemblymember Rory Lancman recently introduced legislation that would increase penalties for those convicted of stealing sacred items from houses of worship from four to seven years in prison.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call Crime stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) and entering TIP577.

 

Lancman ‘explores’ run for Congress


| smosco@queenscourier.com

LANCMAN HEAD SHOT

In a bid to reclaim a Congressional seat once held by democrat Anthony Weiner, Assemblymember Rory Lancman has formed an “exploratory committee” with the Federal Election Committee — an action that many view as the first step toward a run for office.

The seat covers Brooklyn and Queens in the ninth district and has been the subject of redistricting rumors even before Republican representative Bob Turner won it in a Special Election last year.

Turner defeated Assemblymember David Weprin for the seat when it was vacated following Weiner’s sexting scandal. Many believed that the seat would be eliminated by redistricting, but now Lancman said that he sees this as an opportunity to send the Legislator a message.

“If I have the opportunity to run, my campaign is going to be about expanding economic opportunity, restoring fairness to our financial system and leveling the playing field which has been severely tilted in recent years to benefit the well-off and well-connected,” Lancman said. “Last year, the voters had an opportunity to send Washington a message. This year, they have the opportunity to send a serious Legislator who can deliver for our community.”

Now with Lancman throwing his hat in the ring, there is a good chance the seat will remain — despite legislative bickering over where to draw Congressional lines. And with the Congressional primary only four months away, potential candidates like Lancman cannot wait for the Legislature to act.

Lancman has authored 19 laws in five years in the State Legislature, covering everything from terrorism and sex offenders to homeowner and employee rights.

“People who work for a living deserve a Congress that works, too — and works for them,” he said. “Congress should be focused on tackling high unemployment, making college affordable and fixing an unfair tax code instead of wasting our time and our patience on theatrics over the debt ceiling and political gamesmanship.”