Tag Archives: joe addabbo

New Hamilton Beach playground has its grand opening ceremony


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

It was a fun-filled day for the residents of Hamilton Beach on Sunday, as the neighborhood’s brand-new playground was officially opened to the public.

“It’s almost two years to the day that this community, along with many others, was hit with Hurricane Sandy. Not long after Sandy, I was contacted about the playground in Hamilton Beach,” said Roger Gendron, president of the New Hamilton Beach Civic Association. “After many months of planning, I’m happy to say that the children in this community now have a new playground.”

The grand opening event consisted of a bouncy castle, pumpkin patch, balloon clown, popcorn and cotton candy makers and a station for children to paint Stars of Hope, which were displayed all around the neighborhood of Hamilton Beach after Hurricane Sandy struck.

The playground set and project funds were donated by Resorts World Casino. In total, the cost was $40,000 to take down the old Sandy-stricken set, replace it with the new one, add two new benches to the play area, take off the old matting and replace it with new matting.

Gendron was contacted by Councilman Erich Ulrich, who told him Resorts World wanted to come in and rebuild the playground, soon after Sandy virtually destroyed it. They then got together with Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder and state Sen. Joe Addabbo, who worked with the National Parks Service and Local 1010 of the Pavers and Road Union to have the playground built.

The project was started in mid-August and was totally finished just last week, but Gendron and the New Hamilton Beach Civic Association wanted to hold a grand opening to thank all those who helped make the project possible.

On behalf of our entire community, I want to thank Resorts World for everything you’ve done for us,” Gendron said. “Resorts World has shown their generosity to Hamilton Beach over and over again and I just want them to know that we truly appreciate everything they’ve done for us.”

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New hope for Ridgewood Reservoir


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

The Ridgewood Reservoir is gaining some dam support.

The head of the state Department of Environmental Conservation told lawmakers that the city Parks Department requested his agency reclassify the reservoir as a “low hazard” dam, which would obviate the need for a $6 million construction project to prevent flooding.

The reservoir has been listed as a major flood hazard with potential to do damage to its surroundings. In order to minimize the risk of flooding, the Parks Department planned to connect the reservoir’s three basins by creating three large breaches in the reservoir’s surrounding berms.

“If reclassified, the Class A [low flood threat] designation will allow Parks to maintain the reservoir as a dam, without necessitating breaching the structure and all the associated intrusions, such as access-road construction, tree removal and habitat disturbance,” DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens wrote in a Sept. 2 letter.

Martens said his staff felt the downgrade “may be technically justified,” and that the Parks Department is “in the process of submitting additional information to justify this reclassification,” raising the possibility that the reservoir can be fully preserved.

“We share your view that the reservoir is a unique, historic site that over the years has reverted to nature and has become a haven for wildlife, as well as local residents seeking respite from urbanized surroundings,” Martens wrote.

The letter also said that the DEC is developing a schedule to map the wetlands in the three basins of the reservoir, starting early this fall.

This initial work will identify the exact boundaries of each of the wetlands and what conditions exist there.

Even though the letter is a step forward in the fight to save the reservoir, state Sen. Joe Addabbo remains skeptical.

“I will not rest until there is an A classification [low flood risk] letter from the Parks Department in my hand,” Addabbo said. “I am optimistic we will get what we want but just something more definitive.”

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20-mile bike ride benefits local nonprofits


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYFAC/Dominick Totino Photography

SALVATORE LICATA

More than 200 cyclists came out on Saturday for the inaugural “Loop,” a 20-mile bike ride that raised nearly $15,000 benefiting the New York Families for Autistic Children Foundation (NYFAC) and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).

“It was a great ride. We had a good time,” said Joe Mure, who sits on the board of directors for JDRF and is also a trustee of NYFAC. “I think this was a great cause and a great reason to come out and get a little exercise.”

Riders started their route at the NYFAC building on Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach. After the ribbon was cut by state Sen. Joe Addabbo and Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder, riders took off and journeyed over three bridges in two boroughs and then back to the NYFAC building where there was a celebratory barbecue.

“Our first annual Loop was a great success,” said Andrew Baumann, president and CEO of NYFAC. “So we’re already getting ready — mark your calendars for next July.”

 

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Rotting fruit washes up in Charles Park


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Salvatore Licata

 SALVATORE LICATA

The shoreline of Jamaica Bay, bordering Charles Park, is home to shellfish, seagulls, seaweed, submerged shopping carts, abandoned baby strollers and now, rotting fruit.

A cluster of putrefying fruit was found in the water on Thursday on the northwest portion of Charles Park, where clean-up has been a long-standing issue.

“We need to protect and clean up the shore line,” said state Sen. Joe Addabbo. “We appreciate the advocacy for the clean-up of Charles Park and do not want to see this great volunteerism go to the wayside.”

The fruit mound washed over from the Broad Channel part of the bay where Hindu worshipers sacrifice items in the water to the goddess Ganges of their religion.

It is unclear how such a large amount of fruit was able to pile up in one specific area about a half mile away from where it was sacrificed leaving the devotees puzzled.

“We honestly had no idea the items we sacrificed washed up there,” said Amar Hardeosingh, who takes part in the Hindu religious ceremony at the bay. “We try to do good for the environment and we want to keep it as beautiful as it is.”

The religious group has been taken to task before for not cleaning up after they finished their rituals, according to a 2011 article in the New York Times, but lately have been keeping up with the guidelines of the National Parks Service (NPS), which owns the land.

To practice their rituals, the religious group must get a permit from the NPS, which is a long process, according to Hardeosingh. But they have continually received the permit because of their avid clean-up once the ceremonies are over, he said.

“We sacrifice the fruit hoping that the fish will eat it but if it is piling up elsewhere it is not going toward the right cause,” said Hardeosingh, who operates a Hindu radio station and promised to announce this problem over the air waves to gather a clean-up group. “If they are rotting away in this area, it’s [the same as using] non-perishable items, which means we should clean it up.”

Unlike non-perishable items, which litter the waters of Jamaica Bay and its surrounding shorelines, this fruit usually never makes its way to the shoreline. Throwing the fruit in Jamaica Bay is technically illegal but is less detrimental to the ecosystem than the usual non-perishable garbage items and wastewater from four sewage nearby plants that end up in the bay, said Veronica Scorcia, a marine biologist.

“The whole pieces of fruit take time to break down, which makes their particulate matter insignificant compared to the sewage runoff,” Scorcia said.

The NPS is responsible for the upkeep of the park and its shoreline and Addabbo said he is getting in touch with the NPS to make sure they are notified about the fruit pile-up.

He added that NPS has made an effort to clean up the park and that residents must keep being the service’s eyes and ears to notify the NPS about any problems going on in the park.

The Charles Park Conservation Society, which has played a major role in the clean-up effort of the area, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The NPS did not immediately return a call for comment.

 

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Queens legislators balk at plans to toll East River bridges


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A plan to reduce five Queens bridge fares by nearly half is not worth tolling free city crossings, some borough lawmakers say.

Under a proposal by transportation coalition, Move NY, drivers in the cash lane would have to pay $7.50 one way and $15 round trip to travel across the Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg and Ed Koch Queensboro bridges. 

It would also cost the same amount to cross 60th Street in Manhattan, north and southbound.

As a trade-off, E-ZPass tolls on the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, Bronx-Whitestone, Throgs Neck, Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial and Cross Bay Veterans Memorial bridges would be lowered by 47 percent. Cash fares on those bridges would go down by 33 percent.

“We toll nearly every single crossing between every borough in the five boroughs of New York City already, yet we’re giving over half a million folks a free ride,” said Move NY Director Alex Matthiessen. “It’s not fair to transit riders and certainly not fair to other drivers, who are paying through the nose in tolls.”

The electronic tolling plan, which would require no booths, would raise $1.5 billion in net revenue toward improving the state’s mass transit infrastructure, create 35,000 new jobs and restore bus service cut in 2010, Matthiessen said.

Motorists paying cash would be billed by mail, easing gridlock by dispersing traffic throughout the city, according to Matthiessen and Kendra Hems, president of the New York State Motor Truck Association.

But some Queens legislators balked at the idea.

“I am skeptical about tolling the free bridges because once the free bridges are tolled and the infrastructure is in place, we all know from experience that it would be very hard to reverse that,” said Assemblymember David Weprin.

The plan also failed to get support from Councilmember Eric Ulrich and State Senator Joseph Addabbo, who have been fighting to eliminate the $3.75 cash toll residents have to pay on the Cross Bay Bridge to enter the Rockaways.

“Imposing tolls on motorists on bridges that are currently free is not the right way to go,” Ulrich said. “The two are not mutually exclusive. It’s not ‘take this or that.’”

While the Cross Bay Bridge toll has been a “major thorn” in the community’s side, Addabbo said the swap is not enough.

“At this point, cutting it in half would ease the pain by half,” he said. “It would still be half the pain.”

It also costs residents on the peninsula the same amount to get into Brooklyn on the Gil Hodges.

State Senator Tony Avella said the rates, while discounted in the first year, would only increase annually. He plans to introduce a bill that would prohibit tolls on East River bridges.

“The two things for sure in this world are death and taxes,” he said.

Move NY is led by Sam Schwartz, a former city traffic commissioner. The ambitious tolling plan is in its drafting stage, officials said, and still requires public input.

“In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have tolls at all,” Hems said. “But, unfortunately, we do and we have this inequity right now.”

THE COURIER/File photo by Walter Karling

 

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Drugstore chain steps up for volunteers


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

While Sandy flooded Hamilton Beach and endangered the lives of many residents trapped in their homes, the area’s volunteer fire department was out braving the elements. Now they’re getting some help back.

Duane Reade/Walgreens came to the West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department on Thursday, December 20 to donate $25,000 so the company can replace some of the life-saving equipment that was ruined by the storm.

“We understand the value of volunteer fire departments and what they bring,” said Greg Calvano, Duane Reade/Walgreens’ senior director of store operations. “And when we heard they lost all their equipment, and a lot of their personal stuff in the firehouse, it’s time that communities join together.”

State Senator Joseph Addabbo commended the fire department, with much of the staff living nearby, for putting the lives and the safety of others first – while their own homes were suffering damage.

“Moments after Sandy came along and hit this area of Hamilton Beach, which is Zone A,” Addabbo said, “moments after that storm hit, volunteers went throughout this area rescuing people. And these are volunteers that put their personal issues with Sandy aside to deal with the issues others had.”

The first step will be to get a new ambulance for the fire department. After the trucks were damaged, firehouses from places such as Berlin, Pennsylvania, donated equipment.

“It’s nice to have the [support of] people in the community,” said Fire Chief Jonah Cohen. “It’s also nice that people volunteer their time. It’s not only us, but there have been a lot of people in the community that have volunteered to help others. And that’s an important thing to understand.”

Rockaway residents promised involvement in rebuilding


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Terence M. Cullen

State Senator Malcolm Smith has vowed the Rockaways will be united in recovering from the devastation of Sandy, and that residents who have suffered will have a role in determining how to use billions of dollars in federal aid coming to the area.

“We are going to do a meeting every month from now until next year at this time,” Smith said, “so that you have an opportunity not only to hear our report as to what we think is going on, but you can get back to us and tell us whether it’s going on or not.”

At a Thursday, December 13 forum to gauge how federal relief money should be spent, residents took to the floor to tell elected officials where the money needs to go. The Senate task force, co-chaired by Smith and Staten Island Senator Andrew Lanza, can then take this information back to Governor Andrew Cuomo to ensure the money is allocated to the area for what is most needed.

Better infrastructure, community engagement and more jobs are some of the things Rockaway residents said the peninsula needs moving forward from the storm. Some suggested raising houses a level up to prevent some of the damage caused by flooding when the ocean met the bay. An architect recommended homes be rebuilt with energy efficiency to keep the cost of living at a decent price.

Sharon Plummer, whose son was murdered five months ago on Beach 38th Street and Seger Avenue, implored Smith and other officials to use some of this funding for after school programs that could eventually decrease crime in the area.

Along with promising a monthly meeting, guaranteed for at least a year, Smith said people from every corner of the peninsula have to work together on this task force.

“This is the first night of the beginning of a 12-month process in which the Rockaways is going to be completely united,” Smith said. “Sandy was an equal opportunity destroyer. She didn’t care if you were black, white, poor, rich — it didn’t matter.”

Op-Ed: Where to turn for help


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BY STATE SENATOR JOSEPH ADDABBO

As if a sluggish economy wasn’t enough for our local businesses to deal with, they now have to deal with the aftermath of Sandy. But as business owners start to pick up the pieces, many of whom also experienced personal losses at their own home, it is imperative that our city, state and federal government have programs that would assist getting these businesses open as soon as possible.

It has been weeks since Sandy hit our city and still the southern one third of my district is trying to recuperate. At this time, over 13,000 residents and businesses are without power in Rockaway. The areas of Broad Channel, Howard Beach and Hamilton Beach are suffering economically. By working together with our business owners, community groups, chambers of commerce and other governmental entities, over time we can revive the now dormant store fronts into active businesses once again. It is important for our businesses to know that they are not in this rebuilding period alone. I reassure store owners throughout my district that they can use my office as a resource for information and programs that have been established in the wake of Sandy.

The New York City Small Business Services and Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) have set up a number of programs to aid businesses who are seeking to reopen. These programs range from offering temporary work space to providing supplies and services. There are programs that deal with employee retention and alternatives to laying off workers. There is also financial assistance through an emergency loan program that offers up to $25,000 with no payments for six months and a 1% interest rate for months seven through 30. A tax exemption program through the NYC Industrial Developmental Agency exists for purchases of construction materials and equipment up to $100,000. The New York City assistance for businesses can be found at www.nyc.gov and www.nycedc.com.

New York State is offering aid through the Empire State Development (ESD) and Small Business Development Centers. For their services and recovery planning contact www.esd.ny.gov and www.nyssbdc.org . ESD is supporting several organizations that have made loans available to businesses affected by Sandy. Some of these loans have early no interest payments and go up to $150,000. Those interested can get detailed information at www.accionusa.org/sandy or by calling 718-205-3773 and 718-961-0888.

On the federal level, both the Small Business Administration (SBA) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) are offering loans for businesses at www.sba.gov. Information on tax relief can be found at www.irs.gov. Business owners seeking additional information as to other programs that exist, also for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) information, can complete an application at www.disasterassistance.gov.

I encourage owners to reach out to their elected officials for additional information on governmental assistance and other programs which exist to assist such businesses.

While my Howard Beach district office gets reconstructed after being wrecked by Sandy, I drive around the affected areas of my district and weeks later cannot believe the devastation. I know I will eventually get to attend another function at Russo’s on the Bay in Howard Beach, but can never eat lunch again at Harbor Light Pub in Belle Harbor, Rockaway, which was sadly destroyed from fires caused by the storm. For the sake of our communities, for the sake of our neighbors, for the sake of our business owners, we must work together to get our local businesses back on their feet and running again.

Forums focus on frustrations after Sandy


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

BY MAGGIE HAYES AND TERENCE M. CULLEN

Nearly a month after Superstorm Sandy tore through south Queens, tens of thousands of residents are still struggling to restore their lives.

Councilmember James Sanders and Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder held separate forums with area residents, featuring representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), Con Edison and National Grid, seeking answers as to when their towns would be able to get back on their feet.

“I want firm dates,” said Sanders before his meeting at Public School 104. “I want to know when we will be made whole. I want to know when we’ll be back.”

As of the meeting, held on Tuesday, November 20, more than 15,000 people were still without power, according to LIPA.

LIPA representative Tom Smith stressed that utility workers have been in the area around the clock, working to repair electrical grids to get power back up and running. But the problem lies with the fact that many electrical grids were completely submerged under water during the storm, and making sure they are completely repaired has become a safety concern.

“We recognize it’s a bad situation,” said Smith. “But we’re not looking to exacerbate it by creating a fire hazard in your home.”

That same Tuesday night, Goldfeder, along with State Senator Joseph Addabbo, held their own forum at P.S. 146 in Howard Beach, where residents from the neighborhood and Broad Channel were vocal about some of the problems they still faced.

Many were irate, often yelling about response times, or walking out after hearing an unsatisfactory answer from officials.

“If I wasn’t the one standing in the front of the room,” Goldfeder said, “I would have been screaming just as loud because I’m equally as frustrated with the way things have gone over the last three weeks. I think what happened, people got a lot of answers, but not necessarily the answers they wanted or liked.”

Gary Robertson said his two homes in Hamilton Beach had lost power and he was forced to use generators to keep things running. He hired a licensed electrician to repair the homes, but was still awaiting Con Ed to come and install a new meter in one.

Robertson is most upset that he was told he would not receive reimbursement for the gallons of gas he poured into his generator, because, he said, he was told the outages were storm-related and not a direct outage by Con Ed.

“You spend all this money on everything else, you can’t get any answers,” he said. “I got answers basically from one representative that I saw and an electrician that I saw on my block.”

Another big concern for residents is with FEMA’s response time and communication.

Far Rockaway homeowner Cadim Ally has been working since the storm to repair the extensive damages to his properties – while at the same time cutting his losses.

Ally lives in one home in the area and rents out another. Both received significant water damage: Ally’s basement flooded and 13 inches of water rose above his first floor. Both houses were evaluated by FEMA.

“[My renter] had no home insurance, so they gave him a check for $9,500. He took the money, he’s gone,” said Ally.

When FEMA assessed the damages to his own home, because he is a homeowner, he was told to go through the Small Business Association to apply for loans. He did so, filling out all of the necessary paperwork, and after 10 days finally received an inspection. A loan officer will now re-evaluate Ally’s situation, and will either approve or decline his loan request. If he is denied, he will have to go back to FEMA and start his process over again.

“I’m actually sitting around every day, just waiting to hear. I don’t know what’s going on,” said Ally. “I’m filling out every piece of paperwork. I’m at a standstill.”

The need for a FEMA station in Howard Beach – and not just Broad Channel, where some cannot travel – was something Addabbo said came out of the P.S. 146 meeting. As a result, he and his colleagues are working to get an accessible FEMA center in the neighborhood.

“We got a commitment from FEMA, [we’re] just figuring out days and places,” said Addabbo.

Power is slowly being restored to the disaster areas, and residents are still doing the best they can do return to normalcy.

“We survived the storm. This was that 100-year storm,” said Sanders. “But can we do more? God willing, we can.”

Pols pressure LIPA to restore power to Rockaways


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder

Nearly two weeks after Sandy struck the Rockaways and devastated southern Queens, politicians at the state and federal level called upon Mayor Michael Bloomberg and several utility companies to restore power back into the region.

The Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), the main utility provider for the Rockaways, has come under criticism for what some electeds have called a lack of response to the darkness on the peninsula. Goldfeder said he was disappointed the utility company could not even provide a number sheet of how many were still without power, or when power would be restored.

“I asked LIPA ‘can you provide me with a fact sheet that I can give to people in my community?’ And they said ‘we’re working on it, we’ll have it to you by four o’clock today,’” he said. “Eleven days into this thing and you’re working on your fact sheets and your information for the people of the community? It’s, it’s crazy.”

LIPA has yet to respond to requests for comment.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo, set to represent the peninsula starting in January, said that while the storm — and a Nor’easter just a week later — halted recovery, LIPA needed to give residents a solid time frame of when their lights would be restored.

“It’s been more than a week, but when LIPA says they’re going to restore their power tomorrow, then you know what, people take them by their word, it should be tomorrow — not two days later,” he said. “If you’re going to give a time frame, try and stick to it. Don’t get the people’s hopes up. For safety’s sake, let’s get the street lights up.”

Addabbo and Congressmember Gregory Meeks both said accurate numbers and clear communication was needed between the communities and LIPA.

“People in the affected areas need precise answers to when and how services will be restored, what is being asked of them, and what assistance is available to help them to prepare for the restoration of power, heat and water,” Meeks said.

Ulrich announces concession morning after election


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Billy Rennison

It’s over: State Senator Joseph Addabbo has won his third term in Albany.

Councilmember Eric Ulrich said on election night he would not concede to defeat just yet, despite a victory announcement from the incumbent Addabbo.

The next morning, however, Ulrich announced via Twitter that he had called Addabbo and congratulated him on the victory.

With all precincts in the massive district reporting, Addabbo led with 57 percent – roughly 38,011 ballots, according to news sources. This is nearly 10,000 more than Ulrich. Tentative numbers from the Board of Elections confirmed Addabbo had nearly that number.

An Ulrich spokesperson said in a text that the campaign’s internal numbers do not match the numbers used by news services and would not comment further as of 2 a.m.

Although their gatherings were separated by just blocks, the two gave contrasting views of the election’s turnout thus far.

“We are not conceding this race at this time because the difference between me and my opponent is just a few percentage points and there are literally thousands – I don’t have a concrete number – but thousands and thousands of paper ballots still out there,” Ulrich said.

Addabbo, however, was confident in his victory and thanked a packed room for their support.

“We believed in the fact that it wasn’t about the money, it’s not about the billboards, it’s not about the commercials, it’s not about the mailers,” he said. “It’s about a positive message and a lot of heart.”

Addabbo was referring mainly to the outpouring of money into the Ulrich for Senate war chest – floating around $1 million.

“We were outspent in 2008, we won. We were outspent in 2010, we won. And guess what, we were out spent in 2012 and we won this one,” Addabbo said.

There were thousands of paper ballots that still needed to be counted, and Ulrich said he’s curious how many of those were displaced Rockaway voters who still cast ballots within the district.

The brunt of confused results, Ulrich said, fell upon the Board of Elections (BOE), which he alleged had “run down the clock” on deciding where voters on the peninsula could vote.

“Widespread problems at the polls today,” he said. “The incompetence of the Board of Elections, we know that already. How inaccessible they made it for people in these areas where these people lost everything to vote.”

Ulrich, who, along with Addabbo, suspended his campaign to focus on relief efforts in his district following Superstorm Sandy, said, should he wake up tomorrow morning and his opponent have a wide margin, he’d be the first person to call and congratulate him.

He said the campaign did not plan on that just yet, waiting “until we know how many ballots are still out there and outstanding, I think it’s premature that we throw in the towel.”

But, as of now, the race is still narrow, Ulrich said.

As the hours crept further into the night, the margin between the two narrowed with Addabbo still retaining a lead over his opponent.

There is still the possibility of a recount, something Ulrich said he’ll leave to his campaign people as he returns to helping those devastated by the disastrous storm.

Addabbo likewise told his supporters that the next step was returning to revamping and helping to rebuild the region – nearly all of which is a part of the new Senate District 15. The potential of a recount or a lawsuit against the results was something that Addabbo said wouldn’t break his focus on getting the district back together.

“No, I’m not worried,” he said. “You just want to make sure it’s official and we move on. I have a lot of work to do. We can be mired in a court proceeding, but the bottom line, we have work to do. Any talk about what the storm did to the election, I have a job tomorrow.”

The last week has been busy for Ulrich: Howard Beach, Broad Channel and the Rockaways were struck by Sandy on Monday, October 29; his wife, Yadira, gave birth to the couple’s daughter, Lily, on Halloween; and he faced the election last night. He admitted upon voting earlier on Election Day that the preceding week had been chaotic, but had geared his focus least on the election.

- With Additionally Reporting by Billy Rennison

 

OpEd: Happy 1st Anniversary in Queens, Resorts World


| brennison@queenscourier.com

By State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr.

A year ago this week, the Queens community came together to welcome Resorts World Casino New York City to the borough. One year later, we have 1,750 new jobs, $410 million in additional tax revenue, and an anchor business in Queens that is partnering with local business both in joint marketing plans and vendor agreements, helping them to thrive and grow. Resorts World has been a tremendous partner to the Queens community and the impact it’s having on our local economy will only grow in the years to come.

As a destination attraction, Resorts World Casino has brought millions of visitors to Queens, who would otherwise travel to Connecticut, Atlantic City and elsewhere for gaming. In doing so, the casino has been able to recapture millions of dollars in revenue for New York City, New York State, and for the state’s education coffers.

At the same time, Resorts World Casino has made a commitment to our local workforce by not only providing good-paying jobs, but by developing careers for the thousands of Queens residents who work there. Over the last year, they have promoted more than 130 employees and have provided opportunities for hundreds of others to transfer within the company to develop their professional skills.

Resorts World Casino was the single largest job creator in New York State in 2011 and made an extensive commitment to the hiring of a diverse workforce that represented the Queens community.

It’s also important that in addition to the economic shot-in-the-arm Resorts World Casino has provided to the borough, the company has also made a significant commitment to partner with and support our local community organizations, which represent the social fabric of Queens. In making this commitment, the company is setting a public example of corporate responsibility that we are hopeful other companies will emulate.

While last year has broken every expectation we have had for tax revenue, job creation, and visitors to the casino, we fully expect next year to be even bigger. As the State Senator for the area, I intend to continue working with the operators of Resorts World Casino to ensure that the residents and businesses of the community and throughout Queens continue to benefit from hosting this first-rate, professional business.

Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. is the State Senator for the 15th District, now representing in whole or in part, the Queens neighborhoods of Howard Beach, Hamilton Beach, Kew Gardens, Kew Gardens Hills, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, South Ozone Park, Glendale, Middle Village, Richmond Hill, Ridgewood, Maspeth, Sunnyside, Woodside, Elmhurst, Forest Hills and Rego Park.

 

One night, two debates, many issues


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

In a matter of hours, at two separate debates, incumbent State Senator Joseph Addabbo and Councilmember Eric Ulrich argued over issues including stop-and-frisk and discretionary funds, while both agreed on more help for small businesses — albeit through varying means.

The first debate, at Our Lady of Grace in Howard Beach on Thursday, October 18, saw Ulrich and Addabbo both announce their support of stop-and-frisk — recently discussed by the city council — but Ulrich alleged his opponent had flip-flopped on his support of the issue.

When asked his stance on the NYPD’s policy, Addabbo said he supported it, adding that he had not backed a bill in the senate that would water down the policy.

“I said I couldn’t support those bills, I am for stop-and-frisk,” he said. “It’s a good tool for our police to use. It has a direct correlation to a decrease in crime. We need to help our police officers out there, they put their lives on the line with reduced resources.”

Following Addabbo’s statement, Ulrich brought up a roll-call vote from more than two years ago in which his opponent voted for a policy that he said was against stop-and-frisk.

“I support [Police Commissioner] Ray Kelly, the members of the NYPD and stop-and-frisk,” Ulrich said. “I have a roll call of the votes from June 23, 2010 here, which a bill that weakened stop-and-frisk, prevented law enforcement from retaining information from the people who were stopped, questioned and frisked, and you’re listed as one of the 32 yes votes.”

Addabbo reasserted that he supported stop-and-frisk; the vote in which Ulrich referred to dealt with questioning, he said.

“It had to do with questioning, not stop-and-frisk,” Addabbo said. “Now let’s set the issue right. Stop-and-frisk: I am for it.”

Jobs and small business, a concern in elections at many levels this year, have particularly been a worry throughout the district. The two acknowledged that businesses, particularly on Cross Bay Boulevard, had been faltering and suggested different means to save, expand or begin businesses.

Ulrich said that if elected senator, he would support a corporate franchise tax cut that would lower taxes on business owners from 6.5 percent to 5.2 percent. He also suggested looking at current banking regulations in the city for business owners looking for loans to either stay balanced or move forward.

“One of the other things we’ve talked about is the difficulty many small businesses have in accessing loans and capital, either to keep themselves afloat or to expand their businesses,” Ulrich said. He went on to say Albany should look at, and fix, some of the problems blocking business owners from getting loans “so they can keep themselves open for business and obviously keep their employees on the payroll.”

Addabbo said there was currently money in the state budget to help new businesses get started and lower costs, and that he has worked to try and relieve some of the utility costs on small business owners. This included working with National Grid and Con Edison to see what energy prices could be reduced to save money.

“I shop on Cross Bay Boulevard,” he said. “We need these stores on Cross Bay Boulevard; they are the life blood of our community.”

— With additional reporting by Melissa Chan

Schumer endorses Addabbo for re-election


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

With only 19 days until the general election and just hours before back-to-back debates, Senator Charles Schumer endorsed State Senator Joseph Addabbo for his third term in Albany as he faces what’s been referred to as the most contested race in Queens.

“The same sweet smile that his father had, he has,” Schumer said at the endorsement, on Thursday, October 18 in front of the Queens Community Center in Forest Hills. “Because he really does care — it just comes from the heart.”

Schumer drew upon Addabbo’s record of working for his district on topics ranging from tough laws on criminals, gun control and education.

“Public safety has always been a hallmark of what Joe believes in,” Schumer said. “Joe has pushed hard for the schools in this district, and he, almost single-handedly, was able to push to get another $292 million to go to our city schools. So he’s in touch with the people here.”

New parts of Forest Hills will be incorporated into the reshaped District 15. Schumer was joined by some of Addabbo’s colleagues, including Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, who will lose parts of Forest Hills in her District 16 if she’s re-elected in her own race. Stavisky said her colleague would do an even better job than she at representing this neighborhood.

“Joe Addabbo understands, he gets it,” he said. “I gave up good chunks of my district to Joe Addabbo, and I am confident that he will do an even better job than I did.”

Others, however, spoke on opponent Councilmember Eric Ulrich’s campaign and alleged his platform was unproductive regarding safety and the middle class.

“He doesn’t think our gun laws need changing,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris. “On all these issues, he stands against the community while Joe stands with it.”

Ulrich has been trying to make ground in Forest Hills, which has a strong Bukharan Jewish presence. Ulrich began campaigning in the neighborhood over the summer as he ran in a rare Republican primary against Forest Hills resident Juan Reyes.

Addabbo said he’s been proud to put people first and wanted to keep the campaign and voters positive in the next two weeks.

“It’s about a focus of the people,” he said. “We made sure this campaign stayed positive. The focus of my campaign has always been about people. The focus of my campaign, and the focus for my professional life, has always put people first; people before politics. It’s something that I was taught many years ago and it’s something that I follow through today.”

This was the second major endorsement for Addabbo in less than two weeks. Governor Andrew Cuomo endorsed him at the outset of the Columbus Day Parade in Manhattan, which resulted in a major reaction from the media — citing a turn from what some alleged was the governor’s friendliness with the Republican-led Senate.

Cuomo endorses Addabbo in 15th Senate District race


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of State Senator Joe Addabbo

During the primary race for Senate District 15 this summer, now-Republican nominee and Councilmember Eric Ulrich picked up a major endorsement from former Governor George Pataki.

This fall, State Senator Joseph Addabbo, running for his third term, has seen Ulrich’s bet and raised him an incumbent.

Governor Andrew Cuomo endorsed Addabbo on Monday, October 8 at the outset of the Columbus Day Parade in Manhattan.

In his endorsement, Cuomo noted that Addabbo, and the legislature, had been productive in voting on tough issues, and in the end, he said, made the correct decision when voting.

“Now, a number of elected officials are in difficult elections, I believe, in part, because of votes they took,” Cuomo said.

The first-term governor added that Addabbo had “political courage” to stand up for issues and the people he represented.

“And I want his constituents to know today that he is a man of conscience, he is a man of integrity, he is a man of courage, and that’s what you want in an elected official — especially in Albany,” he said.

Addabbo said of the endorsement that he looked forward to continuing to work with Cuomo in Albany for another two years and work toward the number of problems facing the state.

“I look forward to continue working with Governor Cuomo to improve educational opportunities, create jobs, fight for stronger gun control, and once again be proud of our state government,” Addabbo said.

The candidates are set for several debates with less than a month until voters — from Maspeth all the way to Rockaway — cast their ballot on November 6 to see if Addabbo goes back to Albany in December, or if Ulrich will be taking the Taconic to work.