Tag Archives: Congress

Redistricting battle: Court steps in


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Inaction by lawmakers has prompted a federal judge to recommend court intervention in New York’s redistricting process.

Judge Dora Irizarry said on February 13 that federal courts should be placed in charge of ensuring the state’s election process for Senate, Assembly and Congressional districts adheres to state and federal law, and suggested a special master be appointed to redraw district lines.

Irizarry, a judge in the Federal District Court in Brooklyn, cited the “current state of inaction” in redrawing the lines and the upcoming Congressional primaries — slated to begin June 26 — as grounds for her reasoning.

Judge Gary Sharpe complicated matters on January 27 by ruling that primary elections for Congressional seats be moved up from September to June in order to allow military voters sufficient time to receive absentee ballots for the general election.

Irizarry also referenced instances of court interference which have expedited the process previously.

In her ruling, the judge noted, “In 1992 and 2002, the New York State Legislature acted only after there was judicial intervention.”

Irizarry’s decision came in response to a lawsuit filed on November 17 by a group of six civic leaders, calling for a special master to be given authority over the mapping.

Daniel Burstein, who represents the plaintiffs along with Richard Mancino, believes the ruling is a “giant step forward in our efforts.”

“The ruling recognized that time has run out for the New York Legislature to draw district lines in time for the primary elections and period for petitioning, which begins in March,” Burstein said. “When the Legislature fails to act in a timely manner, then it is up to the courts to protect the voters of the state.”

Due to the decision, a three judge panel, composed of Irizarry and Judges Reena Raggi and Gerard Lynch, has been appointed by the Chief Judge of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to make a final verdict. If a majority of the panel believes in the need for a special master, one will be appointed to draw the lines — after which the map will require approval from the court.

“Given Judge Irizarry’s recommendation, we do anticipate that a special master will be appointed,” said Burstein.

The New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment (LATFOR), which drew up the current controversial lines, is holding public hearings across the state. Their maps, which would eliminate a number of incumbent senatorial Democrats, have been criticized by numerous politicians and good-government groups for being politically partisan.

Governor Andrew Cuomo also intends to veto the lines, according to spokesperson Matt Wing.

“At first glance, these lines are simply unacceptable and would be vetoed by the governor.”

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.”

Queens hotel fire rescue


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Queens hotel fire rescue

Firefighters fought their way through heavy smoke and shooting flames yesterday to rescue a man with no pulse from a burning Queens motel and bring him back to life. The victim was in a third-floor room at the Conduit Motor Inn in South Ozone Park at around 4 p.m. when members of Engine 302 and Ladder 155 arrived on scene. Firefighter John Summerville crawled into the room to stay beneath the smoke. “I found him face down by the window. The situation was like an inferno,” Summerville said. After reaching the victim, described as being in his 40s, Summerville pulled him out and put him in an ambulance, where another member of Engine 302 began performing CPR and got a pulse back. Read More: New York Post

Cuomo Turns His Budget Focus To Public Pensions, Education System

Governor Andrew Cuomo is getting ready to reveal his budget proposal for the new fiscal year on Tuesday. Although the governor would not share many details of the expected $130 billion plan in advance, he touted on Monday a brighter picture looking forward. “The good work that we did last year is actually going to pay dividends this year,” said Cuomo. “So, from just a budget point of view, where we had a true crisis last year, we had a $10 billion deficit, we had chaos. We have a much better budget situation on the numbers.” “We got a good start last year, moving in a better and a new direction. Took about a 90-degree turn,” said Republican Assemblyman Jim Tedisco of Schenectady. Read More: NY1

Astoria Houses kids now have ‘Promise’

More than 1,600 underprivileged children have been “granted” the opportunity to pursue their dreams. Local elected officials and community leaders gathered on January 13 to announce that a $500,000 Promise Neighborhood planning grant from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) had been procured for the children of the Astoria Houses. Read More: Queens Courier

Druggists’ cure for anxiety: a pistol

Your friendly neighborhood pharmacist will soon be locked and loaded. Rattled druggists from Long Island to the city are increasingly applying for gun permits following a spate of fatal robberies by armed thugs desperate to score highly addictive painkillers. “I’m applying for a pistol permit because of this,’’ said Todd Svec, 48, a pharmacist and owner of the Arlo Drug store in Massapequa Park, LI. “I will feel safer if I have one.’’  Svec’s wife is also a pharmacist at the store — and his four daughters work there. He pointed out that Charlie’s Family Pharmacy in Seaford, LI, where on New Year’s Eve a pill-popping ex-con attempted a stickup that left the thug and an off-duty federal agent dead “is just two miles from here.”  Read More: New York Post

Baby born on PATH train between NJ & NYC

Next stop, maternity ward! A woman went into labor on a New York-bound PATH train yesterday, and her baby took the express track — he was born before the train even pulled in to its Manhattan terminal. When Rabita Sarkar and her husband, Aditya Saurabh, left their Harrison, NJ, home they were still planning their unborn child’s exciting future. But by the time their train rumbled into Manhattan’s 33rd Street station, they were a new family, complete with a baby boy and a train car full of honorary uncles and aunts. “He came in a very dramatic fashion,” the smiling new mom told The Post from her bed at Roosevelt Hospital. Read More: New York Post

One more time, vengeance shall be Giants’

The Giants wanted another shot at the 49ers, wanted the stakes higher than they were in November. Now they have it, and it doesn’t bother them in the least that the game is in San Francisco, because they would play this one, the one that is the Golden Gateway to Glory, on the moon. Jim Harbaugh has restored the pride to a storied franchise, and 60 minutes from the Super Bowl means the Giants will be expecting a hostile environment Sunday night — and possibly a rainy one as well — at Candlestick Park. “I can care less about how hostile it is, it’s a game,” Antrel Rolle said. “When you’re home, you want to bring ’em to their feet. When you’re away, you want to bring ’em to their knees, and that’s the way I look at it.” Read More: New York Post

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales announces blackout to protest anti-piracy bills in Congress

Wikipedia will black out the English language version of its website Wednesday to protest anti-piracy legislation under consideration in Congress, the foundation behind the popular community-based online encyclopedia said in a statement Monday night. The website will go dark for 24 hours in an unprecedented move that brings added muscle to a growing base of critics of the legislation. Wikipedia is considered one of the Internet’s most popular websites, with millions of visitors daily. “If passed, this legislation will harm the free and open Internet and bring about new tools for censorship of international websites inside the United States,” the Wikimedia foundation said. Read More: Daily News

Urge Turner to support gun control


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

It seems to me that Congressmember Bob Turner’s standing with others to raise thousands of dollars for the family of slain Police Officer Peter Figoski might soften his views against gun control. 

I implore him to stand with Congressmember Carolyn McCarthy to ban the sale of extended capacity ammunition magazines.  Extending background checks on purchases made at gun shows and other sensible laws may prevent the deaths and maiming of countless innocent citizens like Arizona’s Congressmember Gabrielle Giffords and the young girl and five others attending her rally a year ago.

Turner, stand up to your responsibly as our representative in Congress.

Vote for strong gun control laws. Tell the NRA that no one hunts with AK-47s.

B K Brumberg,

Howard Beach

A question of candidates


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

As we approach the election year of 2012, with the national economy in virtual shambles and our government in a state of political armageddon, the candidates for the Republican nomination for president are not looking so good.

Neither Newt Gingrich nor Mitt Romney is doing well in the polls, and that is a very serious issue. Who will be able to run against and defeat President Barack Obama? Seventy-five percent of the American people are fed up with our Congress also. We need Divine intervention and The Wizard of Oz. This nation is in very serious trouble.

 

John Amato

Fresh Meadows

The Economy is a Circus


| letters@queenscourier.com

As 2011 moves along, the economy of our nation continues to be in shambles. The unemployment rate continues to be high, people are continuing to lose their jobs, homes and health insurance, prices on everything from food to clothes to fuel to medicine continue to rise and we have a president and Congress who continue to battle over how to bring this recession under control.

They still cannot seem to be in any agreement on this very critical and increasingly- volatile issue. We are seeing mounting protests all across the country from New York City to Los Angeles to Dallas. People are fed up and disgusted with the state of affairs, and they very well should be.

The state of affairs is indeed very gloomy, and this is no longer a recession, it has become a depression. Wake up congress and President Barack Obama – do the jobs that you were elected to do, and stop all of this political infighting.

We have a circus in Washington, with the president as the head ringmaster and members of Congress as underworked, overpaid clowns.

 

John Amato

Fresh Meadows

Turner ready to tackle the tough issues


| jlane@queenscourier.com

bob_turner_124843718_620x350

Newly-elected Congressmember Bob Turner beat the odds when he defeated David Weprin in the Special Election for Congressional District 9. Now the former businessman is getting to work in Washington, representing the people of Queens and Brooklyn.

During a brief respite from meetings and votes in the nation’s capital, Turner spoke with The Queens Courier about his new position and the hard work that stands ahead of him. He said he has dozens of pieces of legislation to examine, but most importantly he wants the people of his district represented competently.

“Among everything else, I’m busy putting together a staff and offices here in Washington. I also want to have a good constituent services operation in Brooklyn and Queens,” said the Republican who won the usually Democrat-heavy CD9. “It’s important to have people who can communicate with community leaders.”

Communication with the constituents is what got Turner into office in the first place. After former Congressmember Anthony Weiner’s public debacle, Turner dove into the race against a heavily-favored David Weprin – who was handpicked by Queens Democratic Chairman Joseph Crowley.

In an election stunner, Turner triumphed over Weprin by about 5,000 votes – enough to steal away a district that hasn’t seen a Republican representative since 1923. He did it with a mix of Democrats, Republicans and Independents, all turning out and voting in favor of the businessman. Turner attributes his improbable victory to the general public’s distaste with what he calls “politics as usual.”

“My message was largely that on jobs and the economy we are stalled, we are leaderless and the solutions continue to be political rhetoric and not concrete programs,” he said. “Everyone has had it with Congress and the [Obama] administration – they are getting most of the blame and rightly so.”

Turner’s condemnation of the Obama administration’s handling of everything from jobs to health care to Israel-Palestine relations has been well-documented. The representative-elect has even gone so far to say that the country is “on the wrong course.”

“Some of the things the president proposes in his jobs bill have the potential to stimulate employment, but it really just scraps the surface,” he said. “My approach is let’s get less government, less regulation and look to the private sector to help us out of this. The administration seems to be all about greater government involvement and greater spending – I don’t think people are buying that anymore.”

What he is offering, and what the people of CD9 voted in, is a different voice with an entirely different background.

“My approach is that of practical business solutions,” he said. “The voters were receptive to my message and I plan on carrying that out throughout my term.”