Tag Archives: grace meng

Raising the Minimum Wage in New York: What Government Could and Should Do.


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

By Assemblywoman Grace Meng

On Tuesday, I joined with my colleagues in the State Assembly in voting to raise New York State’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50.  I voted for and co-sponsored this bill because it will have a tremendous positive impact on the lives of working families here in Queens and throughout New York.

In these difficult times, with our economy still recovering from the excesses of Wall Street and unaccountable banks, this was a chance to vote to help working families, build our economy, create jobs and stand up for the people who make our city, state, and nation work.

First and foremost, raising the minimum wage helps working people and working families make ends meet. Across the nation, but especially here in Queens, the cost of everything has gone up while wages remain stagnant. Rent, utilities, subways and buses, higher education, and groceries have all gotten more expensive while take-home pay has shrunk and jobs have become fewer and further between.

Arguments against raising the minimum wage, from conservative politicians and right-wing think tanks – which generally center around the claim that increasing take home pay for low wage workers leads to fewer workers being hired – have been proven false time and time again.  And when paired with appropriate support for small businesses, such as tax credits and assistance in winning government contracts, boosting the minimum wage has actually been show to be an economic stimulus.  How does increasing the minimum wage grow our economy and create jobs? More money in the pockets of working people means more money spent in our communities. Minimum wage workers aren’t parking their money in overseas bank accounts or investing in risky hedge funds. They’re spending in their neighborhood by shopping at local supermarkets or local clothing stores, fixing their apartments or homes, and improving their quality of life.

Every dollar added to the local economy generates at least two to three more dollars in increased economic activity. When supermarkets and groceries get busier, they hire to keep up or give more shifts to the workers they have. Restaurants and coffee shops near busier stores get busier too, and then they also need to hire. More activity on local streets benefits public safety. Inside homes, more money means less food insecurity, less stress, more focus, and more opportunities for our children, who are the ultimate and most important beneficiaries of all this positive activity.

The NYS Senate Republican Majority has not yet indicated their support of this vital measure. Negotiations there continue.

Raising the minimum wage is about our shared priorities and the best way for our government to grow out of this recession. Too often, politicians discuss fixing the economy solely by focusing on our wealthiest citizens and corporations – how much to tax them, how much to regulate them, how much to expect from them.  While we certainly need to discuss whether or not the wealthiest among us are doing their fair share, we also need to discuss the direct ways in which we can raise up middle and working families.

Above all, government’s job is to maintain an even playing field and define not just what we could do, but also what we should do.

Wealthy people and large corporations could move their money overseas to shield their themselves from taxes, but should they? Investment banks could, and have, bet their own money against their client’s investments and somehow get away with not calling that a massive conflict of interest, but should they? Global retailers can bribe foreign officials and defend massive employment discrimination suits while also lobbying to open stores in New York City, but should they?

New York could raise the minimum wage, and should be on the side of all the working and middle income families who are one unexpected medical bill away from being poor. New York could support businesses as they invest in our communities, and should be in the business of encouraging safe homes and healthy families.  New York could and should be a national leader in showing how government, business, and working families can emerge from despondent times, not just through top-down policies that privilege a few, but from grassroots community development driven by a realistic and practical increase in our minimum wage.

In the end, increasing the minimum wage is about making sure we are doing those things we should do -  making New York a better place to live, work and create jobs.  It’s about doing not only the right thing, but the smart and responsible thing.  By any measure, raising the minimum wage passes these tests. I hope State Senate Republicans come to agree with this common-sense conclusion.

 

 

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.

6th District Update: Sheng Out; Lancman, Meng Sue; Mittman Stays


| mchan@queenscourier.com

The Courier/Photos

A democratic underdog in the 6th District Congressional primary race will not see her big dreams fulfilled this year.

Ada Juan Sheng is off the ballot and out of the race due to an insufficient number of signatures, said a Board of Elections (BOE) representative. Both candidates on the Independent bid — Grace Meng and Joseph Tiraco — also got the boot due to lack of valid petitions.

“I have a big dream for everyone to live a better life. This is what I think about,” she told The Courier days before a BOE hearing upheld objections filed against her. “I have a good heart.”

According to court records, opponent Grace Meng — the Queens County Democratic Organization’s bid — will take Sheng to state Supreme Court to dispute the validity of her filed petitions on May 7. Each hopeful had until April 16 by midnight to submit at least 938 required signatures to the city in order to appear on the ballot for the June 26 primary.

Sheng said her campaign collected at least 1,477 signatures after going door to door. She condemned Meng and her backing from the Queens County Democratic Party for attacking her in court and causing her to “needlessly expend legal and financial resources to fend off challenges.”

“I did not make up these signatures. I’m not a liar,” said Sheng, 53, a television producer from Briarwood. “Shame on her for doing this.”

Meng said she did not single out Sheng simply because she is also Asian-American. She said general objections were filed against every candidates’ petitions.

“If they don’t seem to be sufficient, according to legal standards, that’s how we decide to challenge them,” Meng said. “I know there’s been discussion about these racial politics. I think our voters are smarter than that. I don’t think they choose who they’re going to vote for simply because of ethnicity. It hasn’t really worked in the past when people tried to play those games.”

According to the BOE, only two objectors — Jeffrey Wang and Sheryl Fetik — filed challenges against Sheng. Court records show Wang listed as the objector on the suit and Meng as the aggrieved candidate.

A similar tactic was conducted by Assemblymember Rory Lancman against Robert Mittman, a Bayside allergy specialist, as confirmed by Lancman’s camp.

While Mittman will still have to defend his case in Supreme Court against his opponent later this week, he was cleared during a BOE hearing on May 1.

“I’m very pleased that the BOE found that I had enough valid petitions to remain as a candidate,” Mittman said. “I’m ready, willing and able to fight to keep myself as a candidate in front of the Supreme Court.”

According to a BOE representative, candidates typically file general, then specific objections first before a hearing is held, where both parties may state their cases to a board of BOE commissioners. The representative said if candidates follow the BOE process, they usually take the case to court after the ruling. However, they are not restricted to the process and may file suit at a time of their own choosing.

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.

Congressional candidate Jeffrey Gottlieb fires back at ‘sham’ allegations


| mchan@queenscourier.com

JEFF GOTTLIEB PHOTOw

The newest challenger in a hotly-contested congressional race fired back after opponents accused him of being a “sham candidate.”

Jeffrey Gottlieb announced his intent to vie for the 6th District seat last weekend, but not without first taking hits from challenger Assemblymember Rory Lancman, who blasted the Queens County Democratic Party for “injecting a fraudulent candidate into the race.”

Lancman said the bogus candidacy was orchestrated by Democrats to deceive Jewish voters in the district and siphon votes away from him.

“The county organization is panicked by the strength of my candidacy,” Lancman said, “but cynically fleecing Jewish voters with a sham candidacy by a longtime party hack is particularly appalling.”

According to Lancman’s campaign manager, Mark Benoit, Gottlieb was collecting signatures for Assemblymember Grace Meng — the Democrats preferred pick — before he threw his hat in the ring. The “malicious” and “last-minute” decision to run, he said, was a scheme “designed to manipulate the electoral process in [Meng’s] favor.”

Meng told The Courier she did not know Gottlieb was collecting signatures for her.

“I haven’t spoken with Jeff in a long time. I know who he is, but I have no other comment besides that,” she said.

Gottlieb, a county patronage employee at the Board of Elections, said he plans on running an aggressive and spirited campaign, in spite of what he called “vicious political attacks.” He shot back at Lancman saying his opponent believes he has become “bigger than those he seeks to represent.”

“Is Rory really that afraid that his record on issues will be challenged here in the community? I think so and his actions clearly show his fear. Why does he proclaim he should be the only Jewish candidate to seek this office? If one of my opponent’s wishes to sling derogatory comments at me, so be it,” he said. “I have a race to run, and the right message that the voters want to hear.”

Lancman said the “deceiving” move would only backfire.

“Voters will rightfully see through this charade, and the party insiders responsible for this hatchet job should be ashamed of their attempt to deny the Jewish community a fair and legitimate election,” he said.

All four Democratic candidates, including Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, 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.

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.”

 

Assemblymember Grace Meng of Queens to run for retiring Congressmember Gary Ackerman’s seat


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Assemblywoman Grace Meng of Queens to run for retiring Congressman Gary Ackerman’s seat

Queens Democrats have chosen state Assemblywoman Grace Meng of Queens to run for retiring Congressman Gary Ackerman’s seat, according to two sources close to the party.Potential candidates met with party elders Sunday to make their pitch to run in the redrawn 6th Congressional District, which would be more than 37% Asian.“She is a smart choice for this new district and a strong candidate,” said one source briefed on the meeting.

Read more: Daily News

Ex-Mets clubhouse manager Charlie Samuels pleads guilty to theft, ordered to pay $50K


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Ex-Mets clubhouse manager Charlie Samuels pleads guilty to theft, ordered to pay $50K

Sticky-fingered ex-Mets clubhouse manager Charlie Samuels dodged prison today by admitting he lined his pockets after swiping and selling millions of dollars worth of signed team hats, jerseys and other souvenirs. Samuels, 52, who was banned for life from CitiField and the Mets’ spring training facility in Port St. Lucie, Fla, was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to repay about $50,000 in back taxes and restitution to the team and Queens DA’s office. Read More: New York Post

 

Cops arrest man in horrific New Jersey hit-and-run murder

A 26-year-old New Jersey man was arrested today for allegedly murdering his girlfriend by repeatedly running over her with his car in Fort Lee, NJ, yesterday after she attempted to break up with him, authorities said. Charles J. Ann, of Fort Lee, was busted in Queens, where he fled, authorities said. He’s being held in Queens Criminal Court on $3 million cash bail for allegedly killing Aena Hong, 25, also of Fort Lee. He was charged with first-degree murder. Read More: New York Post

 

Assemblywoman Grace Meng roasts Boston Market over racial remarks 

Assemblywoman Grace Meng said employees of a Boston Market in Flushing repeatedly referred to her as “la china” during a January visit to the chain restaurant. “Whether they were trying to be racist or not — it’s not appopriate,” said Meng (D-Flushing). “I was the only customer in there.” Meng, who has a basic knowledge of Spanish, confronted the workers after paying for her dinner, but they only shrugged. Read More: Daily News

Strauss-Kahn detained by French police over prostitution ring

French police detained former International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn for questioning Tuesday over allegations he took part in orgies in Paris and Washington with prostitutes paid for by businessmen. The 62-year-old former Socialist senior lawmaker, who until last year was seen as the front-runner to replace Nicolas Sarkozy as president of France, had been summoned as a witness but prosecutors said he is now a suspect. Read More: New York Post

 

Eagle Academy to move into Allen Christian School

The city is giving a successful all-boys school with strong political ties its own building in southeast Queens, while moving a less-connected high school out of its own space and into a building occupied by a middle school. The Department of Education plans to sign a lease to put the Eagle Academy for Young Men into the Allen Christian School, in Jamaica, within the next few weeks, an agency official said. Read More: Daily News

Rihanna and Chris Brown record two suggestive songs together

Ill-fated exes Rihanna and Chris Brown are back together — a least in the studio. Three years after a lovers’ quarrel turned physical, leaving Rihanna in the hospital and Brown pleading guilty to assault charges, the former couple has teamed up for two new remixes. While Rihanna lends her voice to Brown’s “Turn Up the Music,” the Barbadian pop star invited Brown to sing on her explicit track, “Birthday Cake.” The lyrics of both songs appear to imply that the two might have rekindled their romance. Read More: New York Post

 

Anonymous hackers could disrupt US power grid, official warns

The director of the National Security Agency warned that the hacking group Anonymous could have the ability within the next year or two to bring about a limited power outage in the US through a cyber attack. Gen. Keith Alexander, the agency’s director, provided his assessment in meetings at the White House and in other private sessions, according to people familiar with the gatherings. While he has not publicly expressed his concerns about the potential for Anonymous to disrupt power supplies, he has warned publicly about an emerging ability by cyber attackers to disable or even damage computer networks. Read More: New York Post

 

Famous masterpiece ‘The Scream’ to fetch $80M at New York auction

A version of Edvard Munch’s famous masterpiece “The Scream” is expected to fetch more than $80 million at a New York auction, Sotheby’s announced Tuesday. The work, which is one of four versions of the composition and the only one still in private hands, dates from 1895 and is owned by Norwegian businessman Petter Olsen whose father Thomas was a friend, neighbor and customer of the artist. “The haunting composition stands as the visual embodiment of modern anxiety and existential dread, referenced by everyone from Andy Warhol to The Simpsons,” the auctioneer said in a statement. Read More: New York Post

 

Trial starts for owner of E. Side’s killer crane

Long decades of ethnic violence, genocide and religious repression in their native Kosovo could not crush the family of Ramadan Kurtaj. Instead, it took the freakish horror of one moment — a massive tower crane plummeting out of the Manhattan sky. “How? How can this happen in the United States?” Kurtaj’s heartbroken father, Uka, said yesterday, red-faced and sobbing on the eve of trial for the millionaire crane magnate charged with manslaughter in the East 91st Street crane collapse of 2008. Read More: New York Post