Tag Archives: Elizabeth Crowley

Low voter turnout expected in 6th District primary


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Candidates in a hotly contested Queens congressional contest expect few of the more than 180,000 registered Democrats to head to the polls for the upcoming primary.

The estimates of the 6th District’s candidates align with a recently released study that found less than a third of registered voters cast a ballot in New York City.

“Voter Turnout in New York City,” a report by the city’s Campaign Finance Board, found that New York City falls well below the state and nation in the percentage of voters that head to the polls.

Only 28 percent of registered voters cast a ballot during 2010’s midterm election, compared to 53 percent in the rest of New York, and 46 percent nationally. A major city race in 2009 did little to boost that number, as just 29 percent of people voted in that year’s mayoral election.

Candidates in the upcoming 6th District Democratic primary do not expect to approach even those numbers.

The campaigns for Assemblymembers Grace Meng and Rory Lancman both expect about 32,000 voters — which equals just 17 percent of the 183,000 registered Democrats.

Candidate Dr. Robert Mittman said he would be surprised to see even 30,000 people at the polls.

Most of the district had between 11 and 25 percent voter turnout in the 2009 elections, the finance board’s report found.

“It’s difficult to predict turnout for such an unprecedented primary election date,” said Austin Finan, Meng’s spokesperson.

Prior to this year, federal primaries were held in September, but were moved in January to comply with the federal MOVE Act, which was enacted to aid voting for those serving in the military overseas.

“It’s going to be a low turnout election,” Lancman’s spokesperson Eric Walker said. “Ask any political professional what’s the most important thing in a low turnout election — and it’s your field operation and your ‘get out the vote’ operation.”

Lancman’s field operation includes going door to door and identifying voters.

With low numbers expected, every vote takes on greater importance.

“We are trying to get as many people out to vote as possible,” said Eric Yun, Crowley’s spokesperson. “We are targeting every vote we could possibly get.”

The campaigning will go down to the very last minute, said Finan.

“We’ve run the strongest, grassroots field operation throughout the course of the campaign, and we are extremely well prepared to get out the vote in the final days of the campaign,” Finan said.

The primary is set for June 26.

- Additional reporting by Melissa Chan

6th District candidates reveal war chests


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Assemblymember Grace Meng has a fundraising edge over her three rivals in the congressional mad dash to the primary finish line, according to the latest figures released by the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

Meng’s war chest going into the 6th District Democratic primary holds more than $750,000, her camp said, including $390,000 contributions from a combined 663 individuals since April 1.

Assemblymember Rory Lancman has raked in over $500,000 since the beginning of his campaign, including $150,000 of his own funds.

“We’ve got money coming in every day,” said Lancman’s spokesperson Eric Walker.

Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley currently ranks third in fundraising totals, with $280,916 and $19,500 in contributions.

Dr. Robert Mittman – a Bayside allergist and the only non-politician candidate in the race – who generated significantly lower totals so far than his rival elected officials. He had roughly $150,000 to advance his run in the home stretch, but of that amount, $100,000 came from his own pockets, his camp said.

“There’s a big difference here,” said Susan Silverman, Mittman’s spokesperson and wife. “[The other candidates] have big money coming in. We don’t have unions. This is a grassroots campaign. We’re going from the bottom up, not the top down.”

The campaign kickoff and fundraising efforts were delayed, Mittman said, and 15 percent of his limited campaign time was knocked off when he had to spend weeks defending petitions both in Queens Supreme Court and the Board of Elections after Lancman challenged them. Mittman cleared the 938 minimum with 1,220 valid signatures.

Now, Silverman said the team is taking a financial hit, especially with the pricey cost of mailers.

“We’re doing the best we can. It’s very, very expensive to send these mailers out. You can’t even believe how much — tens of thousands of dollars. You’re printing up 40,000 pieces or more, plus postage. It’s enormous,” she said. “We started late, but we hope we get the message out. We hope he’s going to be the horse that’ll run them out.”

Meanwhile, Mittman questioned the money-making matters of Meng and Lancman, pointing to reports that say the pair has missed over 75 percent of Assembly votes since they announced their congressional candidacies.

“The taxpayers are footing the bill for their electioneering. This is typical politics as usual. We elected them to do a job. We elected them to represent our area,” Mittman said.

Lancman was not slacking in Albany, Walker said, but instead was engaging in important conversations with voters on major issues.

A spokesperson for Meng said she is “extremely proud” of her recent record — which includes voting to raise the minimum wage and voting to pass DREAM Fund legislation — and has “worked hard to maintain a practical balance between her responsibilities in Albany and her commitment to the voters.”

Meng recently received huge endorsements from the New York Times, New York Post, El Diario, Queens Gazette, Queens Times, the Sierra Club, the New York League of Conservation Voters and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Leadership PAC. But Lancman will walk into the primary touting new boosts from the New York Daily News, Queens Chronicle, Grand Council of Hispanic Societies in Public Service and LaborPress, and Crowley with the Uniformed EMTs, Paramedics and Fire Inspectors FDNY Local 2507 and Uniformed EMS Officers Union Local 3621.

 

6th District candidates debate issues in Middle Village


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Hundreds of Maspeth and Middle Village residents packed the auditorium of Our Lady of Hope to ask questions and take in a debate between the four 6th District Democratic hopefuls.

Assemblymembers Grace Meng and Rory Lancman, Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley and Dr. Robert Mittman took the stage at the Middle Village school to discuss both local concerns — stop and frisk and hospital closings — and national issues — Social Security and immigration reform.

Candidates answered questions from the audience, each other and a panel consisting of local reporters.

The areas of Maspeth and Middle Village will be in the newly-formed 6th District due to redistricting.

The four-round debate featured its share of contentious moments and an at-times restless audience.

Lancman and Crowley traded barbs throughout the night, with Lancman correcting the councilmember that the MTA is not a state agency, but an independent authority.

Crowley said her plan to fix the economy would not raise taxes on middle class families and businesses,

Meng largely avoided confrontations during the debate.

Citing the “career politicians” and “politics as usual” of the other candidates, Mittman at first drew cheers from the crowd.

The attendees gradually grew restless at the rhetoric, shouting “Answer the question” when they felt he avoided what was asked.

Lawrence Pliska, who attended the debate, said the anti-career politician rants were foolish.

“You do need somebody who understands what’s going on,” he said, before adding he believed Crowley won the debate.

Jeff Kaufman, a lifelong resident of Maspeth and Glendale, felt Lancman was the most polished debater of the candidates, though he was upset some of the more polarizing topics were avoided.

“[Lancman] was able to explain some of the more nuanced issues that either the other candidates didn’t understand or couldn’t explain.”

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]

6th District candidates start making the rounds


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Three major democratic primary hopefuls — Assemblymember Grace Meng, Assemblymember Rory Lancman and Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley — recently spoke at the North East Flushing Civic Association's forum. Dr. Robert Mittman fights to remain on the ballot.

A dark horse candidate in the 6th District Congressional race was a long way from succumbing to the political slaughterhouse, but soon-to-be revealed results could mean a one-way ticket to the glue factory.

According to Dr. Robert Mittman — who is considered a longshot out of four democratic primary runners — the State Supreme Court has sent his signatures back to the Board of Elections (BOE) for a recount. A BOE representative said the board has not yet received word from the court and could not confirm.

A hearing  held by the board on May 1 determined Mittman had enough valid signatures to remain on the ballot, but the Bayside allergy specialist was taken to court by opponent Assemblymember Rory Lancman late last week.

According to Mittman, the two attorneys have been in the BOE for two days straight since May 8 going over his 1,200 signatures. Mittman said the two parties would hear results from the court on May 10, after The Courier went to press.

“It’s obvious they’re winning that war because this is a delay tactic,” Mittman said. “The purpose of this is to knock me off. This is a typical political maneuver, which is something I’m not used to. I’m a citizen who has the ideals of the community. But I accept it as it is. I don’t hold it against anybody.”

Mittman encouraged other citizens and non-career politicians to not be intimidated and consider running for office in the future.

“I think it’s very important,” he said. “I think a lot of politicians have lost touch with what is really going on in the community.”

Meanwhile, the three other democratic primary hopefuls — Assemblymember Grace Meng, Assemblymember Rory Lancman and Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley — have been speaking at a series of civic meetings this week to introduce themselves and discuss local and national issues.

At a May 3 forum hosted by the North East Flushing Civic Association, Meng said she was running to address issues surrounding education and zoning, to fight for Social Security and Medicare for seniors, and to improve infrastructure.

Lancman emphasized his mission to “level the playing field for ordinary people” and said, if elected, he would be a “tough critic” on United Nations spending and would work to raise the minimum wage.

Crowley also said she would fight for Social Security and support seniors. She remained adamant on her stance on bringing U.S. troops home, even when an audience member said that ideal clashed with her views on protecting the city from terrorism threats.

A former democratic underdog, Ada Juan Sheng, was bumped off the ballot last week due to a lack of sufficient signatures and was taken to State Supreme Court by Meng. But the Briarwood television producer said she is now seeking sanctions against Meng, who she said has “dragged her reputation through the mud.”

The China Press, Sheng said, relied on court papers and reported that she was accused of fraud. Sheng said because she can’t sue Meng for defamation for allegations made in court papers, she is asking State Supreme Court Justice Jeremy Weinstein to impose sanctions, costs and attorney fees pursuant to court rules.

“[Meng] obviously felt the need to make outrageously false allegations of criminal wrongdoing against me. Many of these allegations constitute misdemeanors and possibly felonies,” Sheng said. “Had she merely alleged that my petition did not have enough valid signatures, I would have gracefully withdrawn.”

Meng’s campaign has garnered $500,000 in just a month-and-a-half. She was recently endorsed by Akhon Samoy, a Queens weekly Bengali language newspaper, while Lancman rolled in boosts from the New American Voters Association, DC 37, DC 1707 and CSEA.

Crowded field set for 6th District Congressional race


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Democratic contenders “Ada” Juan Sheng (left) and Robert Mittman (right) have collected enough signatures to appear on the ballot for the June 26 primary.

An already crowded Queens Congressional race now has two more runners vying for the hotly-contested 6th District seat.

According to the city’s Board of Elections, Democratic contenders Robert Mittman and “Ada” Juan Sheng have collected enough signatures to appear on the ballot for the June 26 primary, as did Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, Assemblymember Rory Lancman, Assemblymember Grace Meng, Jeff Gottlieb, Republican candidate Councilmember Dan Halloran and Green Party runner Evergreen Chou.

Each hopeful had until Monday, April 16 by midnight to file their petitions with the city. At least 938 signatures were required, officials said.

While Board of Elections representatives could not disclose how many signatures each candidate collected, Halloran’s camp said he submitted “well over two and a half times” the statutory minimum, while Mittman said he garnered 3,000 petitions.

Mittman, an asthma and allergy specialist in Bayside, told The Courier he threw his hat in the ring over frustrations with health care in Congress.

“I consider it an honor to seek elected office in the community that I was born in, raised in, lived in, volunteered and worked in for over 40 years,” Mittman said. “I look forward to the opportunity to compete in the upcoming Democratic Primary and to debate and discuss the issues that are important to our neighborhood. In particular, as an internist and family doctor, I am eager to discuss the current crisis in our health care system which desperately needs reform.”

Sheng, said to be a producer at “The Chinese New Yorker with Ada Sheng” television program, could not be reached for comment.

All six Democratic runners will face off in the primary to fight for the seat recently vacated by retiring U.S. Congressmember Gary Ackerman. The winner is expected to go up against Halloran, the sole Republican runner, and Chou, the Green Party candidate, during the November 6 general election.

Check back with www.queenscourier.com later today for updates on this story.

Queens councilmembers score high on environmental report cards


| mchan@queenscourier.com

The scores are in — and Queens councilmembers have fared well above average in their most recent environmental report cards.

According to the New York City League of Conservation Voters’ (NYLCV) annual “Environmental Scorecard,” a record number of 22 out of 50 councilmembers achieved perfect scores. Queens, the runner-up borough, trailed the Manhattan delegation — which scored the highest average of 95 — by two points, while Brooklyn stood firm with 92 points, Staten Island with 88 and the Bronx with 76.

The annual survey examines voting and sponsorship records on 11 bills covering green buildings, transportation, sustainable food, waterfronts, clean energy and more, said officials at the nonprofit organization.

The average score for the city was 90 out of a possible 100 — up significantly from the 68 point average the Council netted last marking period from 2008 to 2009.

The borough’s top scorers included Queens Councilmembers Elizabeth Crowley, James Gennaro, Karen Koslowitz, Eric Ulrich, Peter Vallone, Jimmy Van Bramer and Mark Weprin. Each of the seven lawmakers racked up 100 point averages.

“This particular scorecard really shows that just about everybody in the Council has a very good track record on this very important set of issues,” said Gennaro, who serves as chair of Council’s Committee on Environmental Protection. “It sort of energizes us to stay the course and keep pushing on in many environmental issues that we’re currently working on. This scorecard really provided some inspiration to carry on.”

Still, not all numbers were high across the board.

The northernmost borough in the city raked in the top three lowest scores. Bronx representatives Larry Seabrook and Annabel Palma both received 64 points, while Councilmember Helen Foster flunked with 36 points.

Foster did not return calls for comment as of press time.

Politicians continue to pick up Congressional endorsements


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Congressional candidates contending for the 6th District seat continue to collect boosts to their campaigns.

Assemblymember Grace Meng — the Queens County Democratic Organization’s bid — picked up endorsements from the New York State Independence Party and the Italian-American Political Action Committee. She also received support from several dozen political individuals.

Meng’s Congressional Committee also raised $300,000 in 10 days, said her campaign manager.

Vying for the same seat, Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley gained the support of the Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA) and the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 9 (DC 9).

Meanwhile, Assemblymember Rory Lancman got a leg up from several high-profile political endorsements, including former Mayor Ed Koch, leaders from New York City Working Families, 32BJ, the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union, and Communications Workers of America Local 1182.

All three Democratic candidates will face off in the June 26 primary to contend for the seat recently vacated by retiring U.S. Congressmember Gary Ackerman. The winner is expected to go up against the sole Republican runner, Councilmember Dan Halloran.

Halloran, who formally announced his intent to run on March 26, has so far pulled in backing from Councilmember Eric Ulrich, former state Senator Frank Padavan, the Conservative Party and the GOP.

Halloran is Republican Party pick for Ackerman’s seat


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Councilmember Dan Halloran has officially joined the race to vie for the newly-redrawn 6th Congressional District seat.

The Republican runner announced his intent to run on March 26 at Flushing’s Bowne Park.

“I am running for Congress because the president and the Democrats’ policies have failed, and New Yorkers need a new voice,” Halloran said. “Democrats in Washington, led by President Obama, have spent us into financial ruin. They have failed to grow our economy and have led us deep into a harrowing recession.”

Halloran — who was elected to the City Council in 2009 — said he would make reinforcing support for Israel and creating jobs and energy alternatives to reduce gas prices his top priorities.

“These three issues are at the heart of the problems that this country needs to solve,” he said. “I know we have a chance now to make a change. It’s time to send citizen politicians to Washington, not career ones. It’s time to talk about our values in our community. We need to start moving in the right direction on those issues.”

Halloran was nominated to run by the Queens Republican Party two days before his formal campaign kick-off. He was also nominated as the candidate of the Conservative Party.

He is expected to run unopposed in the June 26 primary, said officials at the Queens Republican Party. Without a current primary challenger, he will likely be pitted against one of the three Democratic primary runners, Assemblymember Rory Lancman, Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley and Assemblymember Grace Meng — who received the Queens Democratic Party bid.

All four candidates entered the race after the announcement that 15-term Congressmember Gary Ackerman would not seek re-election.

“The Sixth Congressional District deserves to have a fighter like Dan Halloran representing them in Washington,” said former Congressmember Rick Lazio, who endorsed the councilmember and publicly vowed to campaign door to door to ensure the win. “This is a gentleman that knows how to forge solutions. He has principles. He’s hard working. He’s got guts, and he’s doing this for the right reasons.”

Halloran already began receiving flak from Democratic opponents, not even 24 hours after the campaign launch.

Lancman lashed out saying the policies of former Republican leaders “brought our country to the brink of ruin.”

“We’re not going back to the failed Bush/Cheney policies which helped crash our economy, strain our military, threaten social security and put a woman’s health at the mercy of others,” he said.

However, Halloran said the race would “not be distracted by non-issues at any time.”

“We will stick to the message,” Halloran said. “We will stick to the things the people want addressed in Washington, and we will not lose focus.”

 

PEOPLE MAKING A BUZZ


| tcimino@queenscourier.com

10.25.11 FRIENDS OF FIREFIGHTERSW

LOTTO WINNERS

 

The New York Lottery has announced the names of area Lottery players who claimed a winning ticket from one of the Lottery’s live drawings between October 9 and October 15. The following winners each received a cash prize valued at $10,000 or more.

• Patricia Beneduce of Richmond Hill who won $10,000 on the Powerball drawing of October 1. Beneduce’s winning ticket was purchased at the Amar Groceries at 117-19 101st Avenue in South Richmond Hill.

• Ruth Garner of Jamaica who won $10,000 on the Mega Millions drawing of October 11. Garner’s winning ticket was purchased at the C-Town Supermarket at 142-36 Foch Boulevard in Jamaica.

• Robert Myers of Whitestone who won $33,747 on the Take Five drawing of October 10. Myers’s winning ticket was purchased at the S. Michael & Son at 82-06 Astoria Boulevard in East Elmhurst.

 

 

COLLEGE GRADS

The following local students have graduated from Excelsior College:

Gung T. Lo

, a resident of Flushing, has earned a Bachelor of Science.

Nancy Muyal

, a resident of Flushing, has earned a Bachelor of Science.

Rachel Nisanov

, a resident of Flushing, has earned a Bachelor of Science.

Sylburn V. Peterkin

, a resident of Jamaica, has earned a Bachelor of Science.

Faige Rand

, a resident of Far Rockaway, has earned a Bachelor of Science.

Ruchy Schwartz

, a resident of Far Rockaway, has earned a Bachelor of Science.

Esther L. Winer

, a resident of Far Rockaway, has earned a Bachelor of Science.

 

 

HONORS & AWARDS

Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley was presented with the Public Service Award for her dedication to the Fire Department of New York at the Fourth Annual Friends of Firefighters Fall Fundraiser.

As Chair of the Fire and Criminal Justice Chair, Crowley has worked hand-in-hand with Friends of Firefighters to ensure that our fire companies have the resources they need.

This past year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed closing 20 fire companies throughout New York City. Despite difficult budget negotiations, Crowley joined City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, the Uniformed Firefighters Association and FDNY supporters, like Friends of Firefighters, to fight the mayor’s decision.

Actor Steve Buscemi, former member of Engine Company 55 and an active advocate for the widows and survivors of 9/11, was inducted into the Honor Roll for his dedication to the group. President of the Uniformed Firefighters Association Steve Cassidy and President of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association Al Hagan were also named Friends to the Friends of Firefighters.

“In the past decade, Friends of Firefighters has provided exceptional care to hundreds of FDNY families,” said Crowley. “It was an honor to be recognized at their fundraiser.”

 

Actor Steve Buscemi and City Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley.

 

CHALLENGE

Paul Halvatzis, a notable Queens-based businessman, has accepted a challenge from his children, including his autistic son, to shave his 35-year-old mustache off to benefit those living with autism.

Halvatzis, a civic leader in Astoria, has been a board member of the Astoria Civic Association for over 20 years, past president of the Astoria/L.I.C. Kiwanis Club for 25 years and a board member of the 30th Avenue Merchants Association. He also serves as Vice President on the Board of Directors of Quality Services for the Autism Community (QSAC).

The momentous occasion will take place at the Redken Saloon Salon located at 36-16 30th Avenue in Astoria on Friday, December 30 at 6 p.m.

The public is invited to attend, and as this is a fundraiser, people are being asked to make contributions in honor of the statement Paul Halvatzis is making by shaving his mustache. Donations can be made at the event or by going to www.qsac.com/shave.

“Paul has had his mustache longer than QSAC has been in existence,” said Gary Maffei, QSAC Executive Director. “We are thrilled to be working with him on this innovative fundraiser to bring much needed resources that will both improve and expand our services to those most in need across New York and Long Island.”

 

 

 

APPOITMENTS

Dr. Catherine Reid, a veterinarian who has done extensive research on endangered species, has been named Acting Director of LaGuardia Community College’s Veterinary Technology program.

Reid’s research, which she describes as “conservation-type medicine,” focuses on threatened species whose existence is being drastically impacted by disease or environmental or human-animal conflicts. She has been doing research on the deadly herpes virus that strikes wild Asian elephants in Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand, and reproductive studies on white rhinos in captivity.

The new acting director, who also works at the East Side Animal Hospital on the weekends, hopes to bring her passion for wild animal research into the classroom.

“The students already know about laboratory research in pharmaceutical companies,” she said. “I want to show them that a whole other world of research exists and where they can fit into that picture.”

Adding this new dimension to the students’ academic experience, she said, can only enrich the already comprehensive program.

“LaGuardia goes out of its way to give its students more of a four-year college experience,” said Reid. “I can guarantee that there are four-year colleges out there that do not offer the quality that I have seen here.”

And students’ results on the national exam support the acting director’s claim. Last year, 100 percent of LaGuardia’s 2010 vet tech graduates passed the exam on their first try at a time when only 70 percent of the nation’s vet tech students passed.

 

Dr. Catherine Reid, a veterinarian who has done extensive research on endangered species, has been named Acting Director of LaGuardia Community College’s Veterinary Technology program.

 

EVENTS

At The Queens Courier/Home Reporter’s “King of Kings County” event recently were Borough President Marty Markowitz; Philippa Karteron, Executive Director, Council for Airport Opportunity; City Council Speaker Christine Quinn; Malikka Karteron, Director of Education and Outreach, B’Above Worldwide Consortium; and Jacques Karteron, Treasurer, Guy R. Brewer United Democratic Club.

Pols Push for Underground Power Lines


| brennison@queenscourier.com

DSC06587sw
When Hurricane Irene thrashed through Queens, it left thousands of residents without power for days.
Those extended periods without power need to be over, according to Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, who introduced legislation shortly after the storm that proposes installing underground power lines in her district.
“The benefit of moving these wires underground outweighs financial cost. Con Edison has a responsibility to make sure that residents in Queens are afforded the most technologically advanced and efficient power supply that other customers with underground wires are accustomed to,” Crowley said in a statement.
According to the councilmember, the 30th district has miles of above ground distribution wires that make it experience frequent outages. The utility company that services the area, Con Edison, contends that installing underground power lines would be an unnecessary and costly upgrade for those neighborhoods.
To institute underground power lines, the utility company would have to foot the entire bill, which would total almost $1 million a mile and cost each homeowner in the area up to $10,000, said Chris Olert, a spokesperson from Con Edison.
“You have to tear up sidewalks, streets, pavements – it’s terribly expensive,” he said.
Underground power lines would increase electricity reliability in the area. Nearby Manhattan has underground wires and experiences fewer outages than Queens, according to James Denn, a spokesperson for the New York State Public Service Commission.
Though the underground lines are more reliable, they could also be more difficult to get to and expensive to repair than overhead power lines, Denn said.
While the advantages of having underground power lines in communities is clear, the issue boils down to whether or not the costs outweigh the benefits.
“The bottom line to this discussion is cost versus the gain in reliability,” he said.
Crowley is in discussions with Con Edison to come to a compromise on who should be responsible for the bill. The councilmember is also looking at the option of subsidizing the costs with City Council dollars, according to Crowley spokesperson, Kaitlin Moore.
If the community were to decide it wanted to switch to underground lines, not only would their electricity rates go up to pay for it, but the bills of their neighbors would go up too. Those residents wouldn’t be able to have the benefit of underground lines, but would see increases in their monthly bills, Denn said.
One cheaper solution to the issue is better tree maintenance. If Con Edison were to routinely prune trees in the neighborhoods, it could prevent them from falling onto overhead power lines during bad storms.
“The simplest approach is to have an aggressive vegetation management program,” Denn said. “That’s the most cost effective approach.”