Tag Archives: grace meng

Legislation to speed benefits for vets


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Congressmember Grace Meng has introduced legislation to eliminate the massive backlog of disability claims that forces veterans in Queens to wait an average of nearly 500 days for their benefits, one of the longest wait times in the entire country.

“Forcing disabled veterans to wait such long periods of time to receive the vital benefits they require is disgraceful and unconscionable,” said Meng. “Our veterans and returning troops who valiantly served our country must not continue be subjected to these shameful and inexcusable delays. They deserve better. That’s why I’ve introduced this critical legislation to help fix the problem. We can never thank our veterans enough for the sacrifices they made to our nation, and now we must do all we can to help them receive the benefits they rightly deserve.”

More than 878,000 veterans have disability claims waiting to be processed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) at present. Nearly 593,000 of them have gone past the department’s processing goal of 125 days.

Nationwide, the average time for the VA to process claims is 310 days. However, in Queens, the average wait time is 499 days, according to Meng.

Further, nearly 14 percent of the claims processed by the VA’s New York City office contain errors. That is significantly higher than the VA’s target error rate of two percent.
Disability benefits include critical care for everything from major combat injuries to post-traumatic stress disorder to Agent Orange exposure.

Meng’s legislation, entitled the VA Regional Office Accountability Act, would require annual reports on VA regional offices that fail to meet the VA’s target of processing claims within 125 days with 98 percent accuracy.

The reports are intended to speed up benefits by allowing Congress and the VA to better understand the challenges that prevent regional offices from reaching their goals. The reports would also propose solutions on how to rectify the problem.

They would be required to explain why the office did not meet the goal, what resources it needs to meet it and how the failure affected the performance evaluation of the office director.

The VA office in downtown Manhattan is one of 58 regional VA offices across the country that provide benefits and services to veterans and their dependents. The New York facility serves about 608,000 veterans throughout Queens and New York City, Long Island and the rest of the state.

The backlog in claims has been attributed to several factors. These include an increase in veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, extending additional benefits to Vietnam-era veterans, a lack of adequate staffing and an antiquated claim system that is not computerized.

 

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Op-Ed: Allow houses of worship to receive Sandy aid


| oped@queenscourier.com

BY U.S. CONGRESSMEMBER GRACE MENG

When Sandy slammed into our region late last year, homes, businesses and mass transit systems were not the only things devastated by the storm.

More than 200 houses of worship throughout the tri-state area – including many here in Queens – were damaged or destroyed as well.

But when these churches, synagogues, mosques and temples applied for disaster aid through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), their requests were denied because houses of worship are barred from receiving such assistance.

This is wrong and unconscionable. It discriminates against houses of worship – many of which fed, comforted and provided shelter to thousands of people who were adversely impacted by Sandy – and it unfairly treats these institutions differently from other nonprofit entities.

That is why I have spearheaded an effort to change this misguided policy.

After an unsuccessful attempt to attach an amendment onto the Sandy aid package, I joined forces with Congressmembers Chris Smith and Peter King to sponsor legislation that would add houses of worship to the government’s list of private nonprofit organizations that qualify for FEMA assistance.

Working with my two colleagues – and other Republicans and Democrats – in a concerted bipartisan manner, we were able to pass our bill by an overwhelming margin of 354-72.

Although there are some who oppose this legislation due to concerns over the separation of church and state, their worries are without merit. There are precedents for federal aid to disaster-damaged houses of worship. After the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, Congress overruled FEMA’s refusal to provide assistance to the area’s damaged churches. In 2002, after an earthquake in Seattle, the Justice Department intervened to order FEMA to assist religious organizations that were impacted by the disaster.

The measure is supported by numerous local and national organizations including: the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops, American Jewish Committee, New York City Council and Speaker Christine Quinn, Jewish Federations of North America, the Most Rev. William Murphy – Bishop of Rockville Centre, the N.J. State Association of Jewish Federations, National Association of Evangelicals, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, United Jewish Appeal (UJA) of N.Y. and numerous newspapers and editorial boards.

Now that the legislation has passed the House, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has agreed to take it up in the Senate. I call on all my colleagues there to support it, and I’ve sent a letter to key senators urging them to schedule a vote on the measure.

Sandy was one of the nation’s worst natural disasters. Many houses of worship remain in desperate need of repair, and are still struggling to reopen. It is vital that these facilities be allowed to collect disaster funds from FEMA so that they can rebuild their properties and once again offer critical services to the individuals and communities that need them.

Synagogues, churches and temples cannot wait any longer. The time is now to make this legislation the law of the land. For the facilities that continue to wait, it cannot come soon enough.

U.S. Congressmember Grace Meng is a freshman Democrat representing Queens.

 

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Library expansion breaks ground in memory of Queens activist


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Their eyes looking to the skies in memory of a lost beloved leader, elected officials drove their golden shovels into the dirt to break ground on a long-anticipated library expansion project.

“It feels so good to be standing here today, knowing that construction is beginning,” said Queens Library President Thomas Galante at the Friday, April 19 ceremony.

The $10 million renovation project at the Kew Gardens Hills Library was a longtime pet project of Pat Dolan, a Queens activist who was struck and killed by a car last November. She was 72.

“Her memory lives on,” Galante said. “The library she loved so much is now officially located on Pat Dolan Way, and this [expansion] will be her legacy to the community. We will always know she is looking on.”

There will be an extra 3,000 square feet of space when the branch at 72-33 Pat Dolan Way reopens in 2015, officials said.

The library will also have twice as many computers, a bigger meeting room, an energy-saving roof and larger, separate spaces for adults, teens and children.

“This will be a fantastic library. It’s going to be a great place,” said Borough President Helen Marshall. “Libraries are important because they’re full of knowledge. Little children, teenagers, seniors—they’re good for everyone to absorb knowledge.”

The branch closed for construction on February 22. A temporary library is open at 71-34 Main Street, library officials said. Nearby branches are also located in Hillcrest, Briarwood and Pomonok.

 

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branch

Constituents, community leaders react to Smith, Halloran arrest


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

File photos

Those represented by State Senator Malcolm Smith and those by Councilmember Dan Halloran are weighing in on the scandal that alleges the two tried to rig the upcoming mayoral election.

Despite the charges, Smith’s neighbors in St. Albans called the senator a morally sound leader.

“I’ve known the family for years, and they’ve always been good to me,” said a friend, who did not want to be named. “As a neighbor, he’s treated me well and that’s all I know.”

Constituent India Holloway said Smith is held to a higher standard.

“He’s a senator, he knows what’s right,” she said. “He’s supposed to be an upstanding citizen. He represents all of us. What’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong, and he should uphold that.”

Residents of northeast Queens, which Halloran represents a bulk of, have mixed reactions to the charges against the councilmember.

Malba Civic Association President Alfredo Centola said he wanted the Queens GOP to push for a Republican candidate to challenge Halloran in a primary for the upcoming District 19 election. Regardless of the charges, Centola, a registered Republican, said he didn’t think the councilmember should drop out of the race.

“I believe in the innocent until proven guilty,” Centola said. “I don’t think [Halloran dropping out] is a fair request at this point. But the GOP needs to save face.”

Smith was elected president of the State Senate in 2010, when the Democrats took the majority of the Chamber for the first time in nearly 45 years. As president, and without a Lieutenant Governor in New York at the time, Smith was in a position to take over the state, had anything happened to then-Governor David Paterson.

The Republican Minority ended up leading a coup to take over the Senate in 2009 when it recruited two freshman Democratic senators, Hiram Monserrate and Pedro Espada, Jr., to switch allegiances. Smith was able to retain power, however, by forcing the two renegades back to their side of the aisle.

In an ironic twist, Smith announced last year that he would join the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) and effectively helped put a tandem leadership in between the IDC and Republicans.

Now that Smith has been stripped of his IDC roles, a Senate colleague said it would be easier to get legislation on the floor, but, under a tougher Republican leadership, passing issues such as campaign finance reform and reproductive rights would be harder.

Reverend Floyd Flake, senior pastor of the Greater Allen A. M. E. Cathedral of New York and a former congressmember, who helped launch Smith’s political career, said he was surprised when he heard the news.
“[I was] more than shocked I think,” said Flake.

The former lawmaker added he’s placed several calls to Smith’s home since the arrest and is still waiting to hear back from the embattled senator.

Halloran, who was believed to have been a former cop, but was only a cadet, made an unsuccessful bid as a Republican for the newly-drawn Congressional District 6, but ultimately lost to now-Congressmember Grace Meng.

During his tenure, Halloran made waves in his first year by accusing the Department of Sanitation of a work slowdown during the 2010 Blizzard that crippled the city for days. An inquiry by the Department of Investigation, however, turned up no organized slowdown of work.

Halloran, reportedly facing financial difficulties because of his 2010 divorce, his mortgage and a 2005 promissory note to the woman from whom he bought his house, has been endorsed for his re-election by several fire and police unions, including the Police Captains Endowment Association (PCEA). Roy Richter, president of PCEA, said the union hasn’t decided whether or not to revoke its backing.

— With Additional Reporting by Maggie Hayes

 

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Ex-Assemblymember Jimmy Meng sentenced in bribery scheme


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

It’s one month in jail for former Queens Assemblymember Jimmy Meng.

The father of Congressmember Grace Meng was sentenced on Tuesday, March 12 in Brooklyn Federal Court after pleading guilty to federal wire fraud charges in November, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

“I love my father very much. He made no excuses for his actions, took full responsibility for his behavior and accepted the consequences. Hopefully, we can soon put this difficult chapter in our lives behind us so that he can be back with his family and grandchildren and move on to the next stage of his life,” said his daughter in a statement.

Following his prison time, Meng will serve four months of house arrest and two years of probation. The 69-year-old was also ordered to pay $30,000 in fines and serve 750 hours of community service.

Meng was facing a maximum of 20 years in jail and a fine of $250,000 for scamming thousands from a state court defendant.

He was caught on July 24 at his Flushing lumber yard accepting a fruit basket containing bribe money.

“Jimmy Meng held himself out as a power broker, able to buy and sell justice,” said U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch. “In reality, he was a swindler who tried to obtain $80,000 for a nonexistent bribery scheme.”

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Overcast with a chance of snow and rain, then snow and rain in the afternoon. High of 43. Windy. Winds from the NE at 20 to 25 mph with gusts to 40 mph. Chance of snow 80%. Wednesday night: Overcast with snow and rain, then snow after midnight. Low of 32F with a windchill as low as 19. Windy. Winds from the NNE at 25 to 30 mph with gusts to 45 mph. Chance of snow 80% with accumulations up to 2 in. possible.

EVENT OF THE DAY: I Love You, Apple, I Love You, Orange – World Premiere Screening in LIC

The dramatic independent feature, I Love You, Apple, I Love You, Orange, written and directed by NYU graduate Horam Kim, will have its world premiere at the Queens World Film Festival at The Secret Theatre in Long Island City at 7:45 p.m. Screening will be followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Fetish website creator takes stand at ‘cannibal cop’ trial

A Russian man who operates a fetish website where prosecutors say a New York police officer met others interested in killing and cooking women told a jury on Tuesday that users enjoy talking about gruesome topics including sexual asphyxiation, sex with dead bodies and cannibalism. Read more: ABC New York/AP

Queens Rep. Grace Meng pleads for lenient sentencing in her father’s bribery case

Queens Rep. Grace Meng is asking a federal judge to go easy on her father when he’s sentenced for a bribery scheme. Read more: New York Daily News

No raps in FBI shoot

The off-duty FBI agent who opened fire from his bedroom window on three punks breaking into his car in Queens last July will not be charged with a crime, The Post has learned. Read more: New York Post

Elected officials receptive to USTA expansion in Flushing Meadows if concessions are made

Park advocates are up in arms after discovering a letter from elected officials intimating they may be receptive to a controversial expansion in Queens’ flagship park — under the right conditions. Read more: New York Daily News

TSA to allow pocketknives, some sports equipment

Small pocketknives and an array of sporting equipment — banned from aircraft cabins in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — will once again be allowed in U.S. planes, the head of the Transportation Security Administration said Tuesday. Read more: CNN

Venezuelans mourn Chavez, prepare for election

Shattered supporters of Hugo Chavez mourned his death in a flood of emotion that allies of the socialist leader hope will help ensure the survival of his self-styled revolution when voters elect a successor. Read more: Reuters

Pols demand post office reconsider decision to cut Saturday delivery


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of USPS

After the United States Postal Service (USPS) announced last week that it was cancelling delivery of first-class mail on Saturdays, a bipartisan group of local politicians is trying to make it reconsider the decision.

The USPS is choosing to reduce service, starting the week of August 5, so that it can save an estimated $2 billion annually. But, according to a letter sent by Grace Meng and other congressmembers to Postmaster General Patrick Donahue Monday, it could actually cost the post office money.

The letter states that the Postal Service is violating “the clearly-stated intent of Congress for the last three decades to continue six-day delivery,” and that it will weaken the Post Office’s business model, negatively impacting postal employees, companies and consumers who depend on Saturday.

“Companies that rely on six-day mail delivery may opt to explore private delivery services. This could very well mean significant mail volume decreases for USPS and further financial hardship,” the letter says. “The Postal Service should look to expand rather than limit the scope of its business.”

 

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Grace Meng sworn in as first Asian-American from NY in Congress


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Maggie Hayes

The Courier tagged along on a bus trip to Washington, D. C. as the 113th Congress was sworn in.

It’s five in the morning, and over 100 people gathered outside in Flushing, anxiously waiting to board buses making the trek down to our nation’s capital to watch the 113th Congress — and the first Asian-American from New York — be sworn in.

Former Assemblymember Grace Meng made history last November when she was elected to represent the 6th Congressional District.

Community leaders and constituents journeyed to Washington, D.C. on Thursday, January 3 to witness her, along with Hakeem Jeffries, Gregory Meeks and Steve Israel, officially become members of the 113th Congress.

“We are very proud today,” said Councilmember Peter Koo. “It’s very historic. I hope that she [Meng] will be a role model and a trailblazer for the new generation.”

After the drive to D.C., supporters were able to watch the newly minted Congressmembers cast their first vote for House Speaker, and then be officially sworn in to the new session.

Hakeem Jeffries, Meng’s former colleague in the Assembly, was also sworn in to represent the 8th Congressional District — which includes Howard Beach, Ozone Park and Lindenwood. Jeffries faced a comparatively lighter general election than Meng, after the Brooklyn-based legislator beat Councilmember Charles Barron in a June primary election.

Incumbent members of Congress Joseph Crowley of the 14th District, Gregory Meeks of the 5th District, and Steve Israel of the 3rd held onto their positions in the House and were also sworn into the new session.

After the swearing in ceremony, Meng joined her constituents and spoke about upcoming plans in her new position. Gun control legislation, immigration reform and passing the Sandy aid bill are at the forefront.

“There are a lot of issues that we need to work on, and I look forward to working with you,” Meng said. “And you all are the eyes and ears of our community.”

 

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Friday: Clear in the morning, then partly cloudy. High of 37 with a windchill as low as 19F. Breezy. Winds from the West at 15 to 20 mph with gusts to 30 mph. Friday night: Clear in the evening, then partly cloudy. Low of 28F with a windchill as low as 19. Breezy. Winds from the WNW at 15 to 20 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: First Look Film Series

This annual showcase at the Museum of the Moving Image presents groundbreaking international cinema. Many of this year’s films take the form of journeys—geographical, emotional and artistic—with 26 works from a dozen countries. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Sandy-battered Rockaway businesses struggle to pay rent to absentee landlord

A pair of Rockaway stores that survived floods, tens of thousand dollars in losses and the exodus of customers due to Sandy now face a new challenge — battling an absentee landlord who wants them to pay up or move out. Read more: New York Daily News

House sets Friday vote for Sandy aid after criticism

The House is headed for a vote on aid for Superstorm Sandy victims after House Speaker John Boehner mollified Republicans from New York and New Jersey upset with his decision to cancel action on the bill. Read more: ABC New York

Meng, Jeffries among 84 new Congress members sworn in

New York City has two new members of Congress. Hakeem Jeffries, representing the Eighth District in Brooklyn and Queens, which includes Bedford-Stuyvesant, Coney Island and Howard Beach, and Grace Meng, of the Sixth District in Queens, which stretches from Ridgewood to Bayside, were among the 84 new members of Congress sworn in Thursday. Read more: NY1

Special election to determine replacement for Sanders’ Council Seat

Voters will be asked to head to the polls and choose a candidate in a special election to replace outgoing City Councilman James Sanders Jr. Read more: NY1

Attempted murder at Long Island mall

Police on Long Island say a man tried to kill another man in a mall parking lot. Read more: Fox New York

House chooses Boehner as speaker again despite dissent

Despite a rocky few weeks during the “fiscal cliff” fight, John Boehner won re-election as speaker of the House of Representatives on Thursday and will again lead Republicans as they take on the White House over federal spending. Read more: Reuters 

 

 

Local pols angry over Sandy bill delay


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Though the House of Representatives managed to pass legislation before falling over the fiscal cliff, it didn’t vote on a $60 billion Sandy relief package before the end of the current house session on Wednesday.

But this afternoon Speaker John Boehner said that the House would vote on the storm aid by January 15.

That statement followed a chorus of criticism from local politicians who know how desperate their constituents are for the relief money.

“This failure to come to the aid of Americans following a severe and devastating natural disaster is unprecedented. The fact that days continue to go by while people suffer, families are out of their homes, and men and women remain jobless and struggling during these harsh winter months is a dereliction of duty. When American citizens are in need we come to their aid. That tradition was abandoned in the House last night,” said Governors Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie in a joint statement.

Katrina emergency relief legislation was passed less than month from the time the hurricane hit. It’s been 66 days since Sandy devastated parts of the Northeast.

“New Yorkers continue to suffer from the havoc Sandy wreaked upon our region, and they desperately need help now,” said U.S. congressmember-elect Grace Meng, who will be sworn in tomorrow in Washington D.C.

“I call on House Republicans to reconsider their misguided decision, and immediately hold a vote in the opening days of the new congress. People cannot wait any longer,” she continued.

The next House session, which starts Thursday, will include Meng and the other newly elected members.

Congressmember Steve Israel, who represents areas of Queens and Long Island, echoed the outrage of other politicians.

“In the very last minute they pulled the rug from under us,” he told Fox 5 New York. “When it came to New Yorkers and people in NJ they said no. It is simply indefensible. There is going to be a delay in getting these funds to the people who need them. It was John Boehner and Eric Cantor who turned their backs on New Yorkers and New Jerseyans.”

Queens Morning Roundup


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Today’s Forecast

Thursday: Partly sunny, with a high near 52. Northeast wind 7 to 10 mph. Thursday night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 42. North wind 5 to 7 mph.

EVENT of the DAY: LIC Bar: Comedy and Trivia Show

Every Thursday night Stephanie Holmes brings you hilarious and creative trivia. With categories like “name that burger” and audio rounds like “more cowbell” and “name that sha-la-la” you’re sure to have an interesting time. Every show features 3 stand up comedians to entertain you while we add up the points. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Jimmy Meng pleads guilty to federal wire fraud charges

Former Queens Assemblymember Jimmy Meng pleaded guilty Wednesday afternoon to federal wire fraud charges, according to the FBI. Meng, the father to newly elected Congressmember and current Assemblymember Grace Meng, reportedly entered the plea on November 14 at around 2 p.m. Read more: Queens Courier

Mitt Romney’s sour grapes to top donors

Mitt Romney can’t lay off the “47%.” The losing GOP presidential candidate unloaded a cartful of sour grapes on his top donors Wednesday, saying President Obama won because he handed out “big gifts” to blacks, Hispanics and young voters. Read more: Daily News

FBI found classified information on mistress’s computer, gov’t documents in home: sources

The FBI found a substantial amount of classified information improperly secured on the personal computer of disgraced CIA director Gen. David Petraeus’ mistress, sources said yesterday. The files were discovered on a machine removed from Paula Broadwell’s Charlotte, NC, home as the feds investigated her sordid affair with the military commander whose biography she co-wrote. Read more: NY Post

R.A. Dickey wins NL Cy Young Award

In a lost season, R.A. Dickey was one of the Mets’ few bright spots. Responsible for 20 of the team’s 74 wins, Dickey took home the National League’s Cy Young award, beating a tough field that included last year’s winner Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Gio Gonzalez of the Washington Nationals. Read more: Queens Courier

Caribbean diplomats return the favor

Caribbean nations are all too familiar with the wrath of hurricanes and the subsequent relief that flows from the U.S. But in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, high-ranking diplomats from a dozen Caribbean countries have pitched in to return the favor to their adopted city. Read more: Daily News

School’s out for jeans and jeggings

Teen fashion staples like jeans and jeggings aren’t simply banned from one Queens high school — wearing them can get students suspended, The Post has learned. The “business casual” code at Maspeth HS, which serves nearly 500 ninth- and 10th-graders, requires polo or collared shirts and sweaters, and slacks, khakis or corduroys — but strictly forbids the kids from donning jeans, tights, jeggings or even bright-colored pants. Read more: NY Post

Jimmy Meng pleads guilty to federal wire fraud charges


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Former Queens Assemblymember Jimmy Meng pleaded guilty Wednesday afternoon to federal wire fraud charges, according to the FBI.

Meng, the father to newly elected Congressmember and current Assemblymember Grace Meng, reportedly entered the plea on November 14 at around 2 p.m. He was arrested on July 24 for attempting to scam $80,000 in cash from a state court defendant, federal officials said.

“I am deeply saddened by the events surrounding my father the last several months,” the congressmember-elect said in a statement. “Today, he has taken full responsibility for his actions and I support his decision. This has been a difficult time for our family and we continue to pray for guidance in the coming months. My family hopes to continue to move past this chapter in their lives.”

The disgraced ex-legislator allegedly promised the defendant — who sought the former elected official’s help after being charged with state tax crimes — that his sentence would be reduced to one year if he paid prosecutors $20,000 each in bribes, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Federal prosecutors said Meng offered to be the middle man, instructing the individual to conceal and deliver the $80,000 payout in a fruit basket. The government investigation, however, uncovered no evidence the past politician even contacted prosecutors, and officials said Meng planned to keep the bribe money for himself.

“Give it to me and I will give it to them,” Meng allegedly told the defendant during a July 17 recorded telephone call, according to a criminal complaint.

Meng was caught red-handed on July 24 at his Flushing lumber yard accepting the fruit basket, which held thousands of dollars in cash from the defendant, who was cooperating with FBI special agents, authorities said. He was immediately placed under arrest and was released the following day on a $1 million bond secured by his two homes in Bayside and Flushing, said Bob Nardoza, spokesperson for U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch.

Assemblymember Grace Meng, who has held her father’s old Flushing seat since 2008, was elected to Congress last week in a 2-to-1 landslide.

The then-congressional candidate originally distanced herself from her father in July when news broke of his arrest, saying in a statement she was “independent” of him and “always have been, always will be.”

She is not accused of any wrongdoings and is not tied to her father’s case.

Meng defeats Halloran, becomes first Asian American from NY in Congress


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The state will send its first Asian American to Congress after Assemblymember Grace Meng locked up a landslide victory, according to unofficial results.

Meng won her 6th District Congressional bid by overwhelming margins, securing 66 percent of votes, early poll numbers showed.

She bested her Republican opponent, Councilmember Dan Halloran, more than doubling his vote total, tallying 100,571 ballots with nearly all precincts reporting.

“Tonight, we celebrate the culmination of many, many months of hard work,” Meng said at her victory party in downtown Flushing. “Tonight is historic in that we’ve taken one small step in getting more women elected to government. It’s important to protect girl power.”

Meng secured endorsements from big name organizations and major figures in the political sphere, including the district’s current representative, Congressmember Gary Ackerman, who announced in March he would not seek re-election this year.

She fought off three opponents in June and won a hotly-contested primary race with 51 percent of the vote.

The district is a newly-drawn one and covers Flushing to Bayside, extending to Glendale.

“I thank you all for the victory and for the trust you’ve placed in me,” Meng said. “We have a lot of work to accomplish on behalf of the people who suffered because of Hurricane Sandy and on behalf of the people of New York and America.”

Halloran conceded and congratulated his rival for her Capitol triumph, adding that a Republican would have had a “tough time under the best of circumstances” in Queens.

“It doesn’t seem like even the tallies coming in will overcome the lead she acquired,” he said. “She went through a grueling primary and did a lot of hard work. We did a great job putting together a campaign in a short period of time. And now I’m going to go have a drink.”

– With additional reporting by Maggie Hayes

Meng, Halloran go head to head in Middle Village


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A state assemblymember criticized for being “too nice” and a city councilmember deemed “too aggressive” dueled in a Middle Village debate last week.

The two candidates running for the open 6th District Congressional seat — Democratic Assemblymember Grace Meng and Republican Councilmember Dan Halloran — detailed their stances on hot-button federal issues and defended themselves against their negative portrayals at a Juniper Park Civic Association forum held on October 18.

The hopefuls butted heads when it came to their clashing opinions on the Affordable Care Act and immigration reform.

While Meng believes the Affordable Care Act is not a “perfect system” — saying it initially led to confusion for small business owners and fear for seniors — she said the federal statute, commonly called Obamacare, is a “great step in a very important direction.”

Halloran disagreed, saying the health care law will stifle small businesses and create “as many problems as it’s going to solve.” He also said health care should be a state issue and not one handled by the federal government.

In regards to immigration reform, the two candidates were unified in saying providing help to legal Americans come first, but they did not share the same views on passing the DREAM Act. Meng supports the bipartisan legislation — which would make qualifying undocumented youths eligible for a path to citizenship if passed — while Halloran firmly said there should be no path to citizenship for anyone who comes to the country illegally.

The hopefuls then had a chance to debunk how they are commonly depicted. Halloran said he may be seen as “too aggressive,” but that forcefulness, he said, is sometimes necessary to get things done.

“Nobody stands up for the county of Queens loudly enough,” he said. “You don’t do that by being quiet.”

Meng, on the other hand — who said she is seen by many as being “too nice” — said that quality should not be underestimated.

“Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness,” she said.

Halloran, Meng polls at odds over 6th District race


| brennison@queenscourier.com

meng halloran

A new poll released by Councilmember Dan Halloran found him and Assemblymember Grace Meng in a virtual tie for the 6th Congressional District seat, though his opponent says a 30 point gap still separates them.

Halloran’s poll, conducted by McLaughlin & Associates found the Republican to be trailing Meng by three points, which is within the poll’s margin of error (5.7 percent).

“The poll confirms that Dan Halloran is on his way to winning this race. Dan won over Democrats in his Council race and he is doing it again in the heart of Queens,” said spokesperson Kevin Ryan. “Voters know that he will fight to create jobs, help small businesses and reduce gas prices.”

Meng’s spokesperson released a statement saying internal polling by the campaign has the assemblymember holding a 51-22 advantage in the district.

“Leave it to Dan Halloran to release a tailor-made poll. This “poll” is nothing more than a desperate attempt on behalf of the Halloran campaign to raise money from its far right, radical Tea Party base of support. Once again, Dan Halloran just makes things up and expects no one to question him,” said Meng spokesperson Austin Finan.

One thing the disparate polls agreed upon was the amount of undecided voters. Halloran’s poll measured the number at 30 percent while Meng’s survey found 27 percent still unsure.

Halloran leads Meng among voters who have heard of both candidates (40-35) and who have an opinion of both (61-33), according to the McLaughlin & Associates poll.

The pollsters concluded that in a district that has voted for Republican in the past including Senator Frank Padavan, Senator Serf Maltese, Rudy Giuliani and Halloran, the councilmember can be victorious.

Further proof given was Mitt Romney’s three point lead over President Barack Obama in the district, according to the poll.

A Siena College survey of the 15th Senate District that includes more conservative portions of the 6th Congressional District found Obama to be leading Romney by three points in early October.

McLaughlin & Associates, a national survey research and strategic services company, currently represents 20 sitting members of Congress all of whom are Republican.

Three hundred voters were surveyed on October 10 and 11 for the poll.