Tag Archives: republicans

Smith’s move could stymie State Senate Democrats


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Malcolm Smith #8

State Senator Malcolm Smith, representing southeast Queens, announced he joined the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) in an allegiance with Republican representatives. This will possibly give the pact a tandem leadership of the chamber and stymie the Democrats, who seemingly took power in November’s election.

The tenured senator is now joining a coalition that will split power between two of the three sects in the Senate, with incumbent Senate Leader Dean Skelos switching every two weeks with Bronx IDC Senator Jeff Klein.

Klein’s spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment.

Smith wants to focus more on policy than politicking, said spokesperson Hank Sheinkopf.

In 2009, two freshman Democrat state senators joined Republicans to vote for a change that would have effectively removed Smith as senate leader.

The two senators later retracted and sided back with Dems.

“As someone who has been a victim of a coup,” Sheinkopf said, “and has seen chaos, this would be the best way to ensure that there would be no chaos. He wanted to make sure that it didn’t happen again.”

The senator, whose district will no longer include the storm-ravaged Rockaways, wants to focus on better transit, among other issues concerning the state, Sheinkopf said.

Though Smith is joining a coalition that will be allied with Republican senators, Sheinkopf said Smith remains a Democrat.

And while some Democrats are cautiously optimistic, others are appalled by what is known of the plan so far. Senator Joseph Addabbo, one of the Queens senators in office during the 2009 leadership crisis, said the Senate is at a crossroads right now. If power is split between all three sects of the higher house, GOP, IDC and Democrats, then a true allied government could be productive. However, should there be what Addabbo called a continued blockage by Skelos against Democratic bills, constituents will suffer as a result and the progress of government will get nowhere.

The New York State Senate Democratic Conference released statements following the news of Smith’s move, and claimed Republicans ultimately hurt constituents by holding up the legislative process.

“This is not a coalition but a coup against all New Yorkers who voted for Democratic control of the Senate and a progressive state government,” said Democratic spokesperson Mike Murphy. “Sadly, the real victims of today’s announcement are the people of our state, whose clearly expressed desire for progress on a host of issues will now be scuttled.”

Senator Jose Peralta, also a candidate for borough president, said he always had a great relationship with Smith and looked forward to continuing that despite the move, focusing on borough-wide issues and doing whatever possible to enact legislation at the state level.

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Senator Malcolm Smith in the legislature in Albany and in communities in Queens,” Peralta said. “While I am deeply disappointed that he will not be a member of the Senate Democratic Conference, I will work to keep open a line of communication between Senator Smith and the conference and am hopeful he will fight to enact long-overdue sensible gun legislation, raise the minimum wage, improve our schools and ensure access to decent, affordable housing for all New Yorkers.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo, in an editorial for the Albany Times-Union, noted that he would not support either side at this time, or discuss the actions of particular legislators.

He did note, however, that the Democrat-led senate, which held power from 2009 to 2011, had failed to pass much legislation and cited leadership crises during that time. In addition, the governor listed what legislation he supported, including a minimum wage increase and reform to the much-discussed stop-and-frisk policy.

“The Democratic Conference was in power for two years and squandered the opportunity, failing to pass any meaningful reform legislation despite repeated promises,” he wrote. “The Democratic Conference dysfunction was legendary and the current leadership has failed to come to a cooperative agreement with Mr. Klein’s IDC faction.”

Murphy, in a statement responding to the op-ed, said the governor’s agenda was almost a match to members of the conference. Democratic senators, he said, would continue to fight for New Yorkers’ wants and needs and jeer the Republicans for any missteps in constituents’ needs.

“The governor has now presented a similar agenda including many issues the new Republican Coalition has opposed,” he said. “Senate Democrats will continue to lead the fight on this progressive agenda, and we will hold the Senate Republican Coalition accountable until New Yorkers get the progressive change they deserve.”

Where are the Republicans?


| letters@queenscourier.com

I noticed that “Potentials Eyeing Run for BP” (Terence M. Cullen — July 5) made no mention of any potential Republican candidate for Queens Borough President in 2013.

This could influence the political survival for two of the last Queens Republican elected officials – City Councilmembers Dan Halloran and Eric Ulrich (assuming they do not win their respective upcoming contests for Congress and State Senate this November) or any GOP successor running for their vacant office. Any local GOP NYC Council candidate in 2013 will need strong political coat tails provided by real running mates with both name recognition and funding whose names will appear above them on the ballot for mayor, city comptroller, public advocate and borough president.

There are no serious GOP candidates to date who have declared and started raising money, which is critical if they are to be taken seriously in 2013. As of April, 2012 there are 694,353 Democrats, 132,953 Republicans, 203,141 Blanks (no declared party affiliation), 26,261 Independence, 5,967 Conservative, 3,114 Working Family and 1,011 Green registered voters in Queens.

Any Republican running for Borough President in 2013 would need both name recognition and several million dollars. This is necessary to level the playing field against whomever the Democrats nominate. No wonder the last Republican Borough President was James A. Lundy who served from 1952-1957.

Larry Penner

Great Neck

 

What the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act means to Queens


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Last week, President Barack Obama’s landmark legislation to supply health care to most Americans was upheld by a 5-4 Supreme Court ruling, and soon many uninsured Queens residents will have access to doctors, hospitals and preventive medicine.

The constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was passed in 2010, had been questioned by lawmakers because the law mandated that all Americans have health care or pay a fee.

However, Chief Justice John Roberts, who was appointed by former President George W. Bush, gave the surprising tiebreaker vote to upholding the law, deeming the penalty a tax, which Congress is normally allowed to enact.

“The courts looked at it in a constitutional manner and agree that what we did was constitutional,” said Congressmember Gregory Meeks, who represents parts of southeastern Queens. “The president’s achievement and what the Democratic controlled congress did is the right thing for America.”

Officials said the historic decision from the nation’s highest court will especially affect locals.

“The Supreme Court ruling to uphold significant sections of the patients’ bill of rights is a momentous feat for the future viability of Queens’ health care,” said Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi, who sits on the Health Committee. “It is my hope that the reforms contained in the patients’ bill of rights will not only ensure the health and well being of our borough’s residents, but also enable us to expand our health care system in Queens”.

However, directly after the courts’ decision, local Republicans sided with party leaders, disclaiming the law’s benefits, and continuing bipartisan bickering over the controversial issue.

“Like most Americans, I am disappointed with the Supreme Court’s ruling today. ‘ObamaCare’ is expensive, expansive and unpopular,” said Councilmember Dan Halloran. “Even in upholding ‘ObamaCare,’ the Supreme Court held that it’s a tax — the biggest tax increase in American history. That’s the last thing we need in these economic times.”

But Obama later defended the mandate, citing two reasons.

“First, when uninsured people who can afford coverage get sick, and show up at the emergency room for care, the rest of us end up paying for their care in the form of higher premiums,” Obama said. “And second, if you ask insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions, but don’t require people who can afford it to buy their own insurance, some folks might wait until they’re sick to buy the care they need — which would also drive up everybody else’s premiums.”

To many people, ACA may seem confusing, because the law covers a significant range of changes in the insurance industry.

To break it down, the law forces insurance policies to become more secure and flexible for citizens that already have insurance.

Going forward, companies can’t impose lifetime limits on care or charge higher rates for children with pre-existing conditions.

Also, young adults that already receive coverage through their parents — approximately 77,800 of which are in New York — can remain on those plans until the age of 26.

In addition, starting in August, insurance companies will also be required to cover women’s preventive services, including contraception.

The law especially targets the more than 30 million Americans citizens that don’t have insurance by offering cheaper options.

These options and their prices will be clear by 2014, when each state will set up a range of affordable insurance choices in a marketplace known as “exchanges.”

With more than 2.7 million currently uninsured residents in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo established the New York Health Benefit Exchange in April, which will affect more than one million uninsured New Yorkers.

“We will continue to move forward with implementing the health exchange that will lower coverage costs for New York’s businesses and help ensure that uninsured New Yorkers have access to health care,” said Cuomo after the court’s decision.

Through these exchanges, individuals with pre-existing conditions will not be charged higher rates and they won’t lose coverage if they get sick.

All businesses, except those with fewer than 50 employees, are required to provide insurance to their workers.

But small businesses under the cutoff –340,000 of which are eligible in New York — that do offer insurance can quality for a 35 percent tax credit, which will increase to 50 percent in 2014 if they enroll through the exchanges.

Although the legislation has been upheld by the Supreme Court, officials in the Republican-led House of Representatives have vowed to trash the law in a vote on July 11, according to published reports.

Local Democrats are calling the ruling a sign that it’s time to move on.

“Republicans must act in the interest of Americans now, and put the politics aside,” Meeks said. “Instead of rhetoric about repealing the ACA, it is time for Republicans to work toward successful implementation.”

Politics aside, some locals in the business industry are saying now that the law has been upheld it’s time to work.

“The next three or four years is going to be a lot of work,” said Sher Sparano, president of the Benefits Advisory Service. “Now we have gotten over the hurdle of ‘does the law exist,’ now we have to roll up our sleeves and figure out the details of how the employers and employees move forward.”

 

This Morning’s Headlines


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Queens couple found dead in apparent murder suicide

A man and woman were shot to death last night in their Queens home in what cops called an apparent murder-suicide — and one of the two children in the house at the time made the horrifying discovery, neighbors said. The victims, whose names were withheld, were found around 11: 30 p.m. in the home on Dillon Street in South Jamaica, cops said. In the house were the couple’s 2-year-old son and his 16-year-old stepsister. The teenager’s 18-year-old sister was out at the time. Read More: New York Post

 

GOP hopeful that Police Commissioner Kelly will run for mayor

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly is being courted by a top state Republican to run for mayor next year — and the city’s top cop is open to the idea, sources told The Post. Kelly, who has come under fire for the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk and Muslim-surveillance policies, could use the City Hall post to continue driving down crime and fighting local terrorism “for another four or eight years,’’ said former state GOP Chairman William Powers, who heads the party’s newly created statewide “advisory committee.’’ Read More: New York Post

 

Fearless squirrels invade Queens co-op

They are marauding gangs of troublemakers who set fire to cars, cut electrical wires and cause power outages, evading capture by scaling walls and climbing trees. But while the Queens co-op residents being terrorized by the daredevil vandals say they know exactly who their tormentors are, they insist that they’re helpless in stopping the crime wave — because the suspects are sex-happy squirrels. Read More: New York Post

 

Residents Help Clean Rockaway Beach For The Summer Season

While it’s not summertime yet, the unseasonably warm temperatures this week got dozens of local residents to make sure Rockaway Beach is ready to make a positive first impression this season. Read More: NY1

 

Queens man arrested for breaking into Diddy’s East Hampton mansion, eating his food and wearing rapper’s clothes

A Queens resident’s unwelcome visit to Diddy’s East Hampton mansion on April 1 was no joke. Quamine T. Taylor was arrested at the rapper’s residence after cops say he entered through an unlocked basement door, and treated himself to a nearly day-long feast fit for a music mogul, according to the East Hampton Star. Read More: Daily News

 

Rookie police officer arrested after assaulting fiancee in his Queens home

A rookie NYPD cop was arrested in Queens Saturday for assaulting his fiancée, officials said. Off-duty Officer Alexandru Baiasu, 27, was arrested about 10:50 p.m. at his Rego Park home after attacking his 31-year-old fiancée during an argument, cops said. Baiasu, who was newly assigned to the Police Academy, was charged with assault and harassment, officials said. Read More: Daily News

 

NY Jets’ Tim Tebow attends Yankees-Angels game, sits with Dwyane Wade and gets booed by fans

Tim Tebow made the scene at the Stadium for Sunday night’s 11-5 win over the Angels. The newest Jet, who is due to attend workouts with the team on Monday, sat on the third-base side next to the Angels dugout with a Yankees cap on and, at one point, engaged in an animated conversation with Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat. When the Stadium video board showed Tebow, he received equal parts boos and cheers. Read More: Daily News