Tag Archives: staten island

Bill proposed in State Assembly to cover GPS tracking devices for kids with autism


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Handout

Staten Island Assemblymember Matthew Titone introduced a bill in the State Assembly that would require insurance companies to offer GPS device tracking coverage for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

The bill comes after autistic teen Avonte Oquendo was laid to rest.

Avonte was last seen at the Center Boulevard School in Long Island City on October 4, when he ran out of the school, located just across from the East River. His body was found on January 16, washed up in College Point.

“The tracking devices are crucial in finding lost children quickly and safely,” said Titone. “Unfortunately, such devices can be expensive and difficult to maintain.”

Titone also added that insurance companies would be responsible for covering the costs of the equipment and monitoring services.

In January, Senator Charles Schumer introduced a bill called “Avonte’s Law” which will create and fund a program to provide voluntary tracking devices and increase support services for families of children with ASD or any other developmental conditions in which bolting is common.

Later that same month, the Department of Justice agreed to take existing funding which already helps track seniors with Alzheimer’s and expand it to children with ASD.

The funding will become available to police departments or other local law enforcement groups that would be able to provide tracking devices to parents, schools and legal guardians interested in the program.

 

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Groundhogs see shadows, predict six more weeks of winter


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYC Mayor's Office's Flickr

Get ready to bundle up because winter is here to stay, according to the nation’s two most famous groundhogs.

Both Charles G. Hogg, also known as “Staten Island Chuck,” and Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil saw their shadows Sunday morning predicting six more weeks of cold weather.

Photo courtesy of Punxsutawney Phil’s Facebook Page

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Public Advocate Letitia James celebrated in Staten Island for the city’s Groundhog Day celebrations.

De Blasio did not get a warm response from the audience when he said Staten Island Chuck “likes the polar vortex” after the prediction was made.

He also did not receive a friendly response from Chuck, who de Blasio dropped as he was trying to hold him during the ceremony.

It wasn’t the first time the groundhog had an awkward encounter with a New York City mayor. In 2009, he bit then-mayor Michael Bloomberg’s finger.

 

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Middle Village scout troop needs members


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Charles Krzewski

The St. Margaret’s Boy Scout Troop 119 of Middle Village was once a bustling group filled with dozens of youngsters eager to learn about the outdoors.

But membership in the nearly 70-year-old troop has declined after years of competing for attention with computers, video games and now, mobile devices.

About two decades ago there were more than 35 members, but now with just 14 scouts, the group is seeking new members to teach the importance of nature and charity.

“Outdoor skills are very important,” said Charles Krzewski, the troop committee chair. “If they don’t learn this stuff they’re never going to have an appreciation for the outdoors. And you don’t want people going out to wreck it.”

The boy scout troop teaches boys from ages 10 to 18 how to start fires and build camps. They go on hiking and camping trips upstate and in New Jersey, Staten Island and Pennsylvania.

The troop also teaches the boys sports such as basketball, dodgeball, skiing, fishing, rafting, canoeing and rock climbing, among others.

But, in addition to the fun, the scouting group focuses on charity. They paint over graffiti and do community clean-up. Recently, the scouts also collected pies, snacks, canned food and turkeys, and donated them to local disadvantaged families for Thanksgiving.

Following the holidays, the scouts will collect food to donate to St. Margaret’s Roman Catholic Church in Middle Village, which will give it to people in need.

“Today’s kids are all concerned about self,” Krzewski said. “We want to have a good time, but we stress ‘you must give back.’ It lets them know that there is more out there than just themselves.”

Krzewski asks parents interested in signing their children up for the Scout Troop 119 to contact him at 718-894-4099.

 

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Queens man arrested for alleged sexual abuse of kids at Staten Island camp


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Endrick Torres 2

An Elmhurst man has been charged for the second time this month for allegedly sexually abusing a young child at the Staten Island camp where he worked.

Endrick Torres, 33, who had been a counselor at Big Bird’s Playhouse for four years, was first arrested on August 14 on charges of sexual abuse, endangering the welfare of a child and forcible touching, according to the Richmond County District Attorney’s office.

Torres allegedly sexually abused a 10-year-old female on a school bus for the day camp the previous afternoon.

After hearing about Torres’ arrest in the media, the mother of a second victim asked her child about the counselor, and the nine-year-old girl admitted that she had also been abused by him, according to a law enforcement source.

He is accused of sexually abusing the second victim at least eight times on the camp bus and at a movie theater on Staten Island this summer.

Torres was released on $15,000 bond following his first arrest.  He was arraigned on charges in the second case this afternoon where bail was set at $35,000.

 

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Doe Fund cleans up Broad Channel


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

Broad Channel is seeing blue.

Nine workers from the Doe Fund, dubbed “the men in blue,” will help clean up a two-mile stretch of Cross Bay Boulevard in Broad Channel, as the island still continues to recover nearly four months after Sandy hit.

The cleanup effort, which officially began on Friday, February 15, will run from the foot of the Joseph P. Addabbo Memorial Bridge to the American Legion Post 1404.

The Doe Fund gives homeless men and women a second chance by providing jobs and starting a new life. Staten Island, Coney Island and the Rockaways have been other areas the Doe Fund has cleaned up in wake of the storm. The men will pick up the roadside trash and haul it on to Department of Sanitation trucks.

“The garbage and the litter and the debris are still here,” said Councilmember Eric Ulrich. “People are going to be so impressed. They’re [the workers] going to do a top-notch job.”

Ulrich said he reached out to Doe Fund chair George McDonald two weeks ago to help clean up Broad Channel’s main thoroughfare, which is still littered with debris. Flanked by Doe Fund members and representatives from the National Park Service and the Department of Sanitation, Ulrich said the “Men in Blue” would be on Cross Bay Boulevard, picking up trash until the job is done. The goal, he added, is to have Cross Bay back to its pre-storm look, if not better.

Cross Bay Boulevard is the first view of the Rockaways visitors get and the road needed to keep that vista positive, Ulrich said.

The relationship between the Doe Fund and south Queens goes back to long before the storm, according to Community Board 14 chair Dolores Orr. The organization helps clean up Beach 116th street, an economic hub in Rockaway, every spring, Orr said.

“It’s equally important for the residents trying to recover themselves,” Orr said.

McDonald, who’s also running as a Republican for mayor, said the men and women of the organization were hard workers and dedicated to getting their life back on track.

“It’s on behalf of all the citizens of New York that we come here and help clean up,” McDonald said. “We are thrilled to be able to give back. I know this partnership is going to do great things for this community and I thank Councilmember Ulrich for thinking of us.”

 

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New photo exhibit shows before and after effects of Sandy


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NPS

Homes and businesses were not the only places that Sandy destroyed.

Gateway National Recreation Area, which encompasses parts of Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island and Monmouth County, New Jersey, is also still recovering from the storm and has yet to fully reopen.

The effects that Sandy had on the area can now be seen in a new exhibit, “Hurricane Sandy: Before and After,” at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center.

“These [photos] are snapshots in time. It’s the chance to see a historic event,” said Charles Markis, a park ranger and the exhibit’s curator.

As part of the storm recovery effort, the National Park Service (NPS) Incident Management Team went around the area taking photos to assess the storm damage. The team, one of the largest assembled in NPS history, even had access to aircraft for aerial pictures.

After looking through those photographs, and receiving inquiries from the public on what had happened to Gateway after the storm, Markis saw them as more than a remediation tool.

Using those photos, as well as shots from the NPS already had of the area’s condition before Sandy, both from on the ground and satellite imagery, he put together the “Before and After” exhibit.

He describes the 30 photos, some of which are side-by-side comparisons, as sad, yet interesting and beautiful, and has received a similar response from those who have seen it.

“My point was not to celebrate the disaster but to tell the story of what happened,” said Markis.

The photos show scenes of structural destruction at Jacob Riis Park, boats thrown onto land away from Great Kills Harbor and parking lots buried in sand.

The pictures also illustrate resilience through recovery progress maps, and that’s the ultimate message that visitors should take away from the exhibit.

“While these pictures demonstrate damage, the take-away message should not be one of doom and gloom, but rather one of resilience,” said Gateway superintendent Linda Canzanelli. “There is still a lot of work to do and some things have changed forever. But the park is reopening, the natural areas will rebound and park visitors will be welcomed back.”

 

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Shadows are no-shows, groundhogs predict early spring


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Twitter/@ChrisCQuinn

Spring is coming early if the city’s most famous marmot has predicted correctly.

Groundhog Chuck in Staten Island and Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania did not see their shadows this morning.

City Council Speaker and mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn celebrated at the city’s Groundhog Day festivities in Staten Island after the tiny rodent predicted the end of winter.

Shadows were not the only shy ones Saturday morning. Mayor Michael Bloomberg was also absent.

Op-Ed: Helping businesses recover


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BY ASSEMBLYMEMBER WILLIAM SCARBOROUGH

New York has experienced a number of severe storms in recent years, and the resulting damage has been devastating to residents and to businesses. Damage from the two storms is said to exceed $40 billion to New Yorkers, and it is evident that we can now expect more severe weather events in the future. The damage to residences is tragic, but equally devastating is the damage to businesses, especially small businesses.

Small business is the key to many local economies as well as the engine that drive the overall economic recovery of our region. Many small businesses have been shut down due to storm damage in the Rockaways, Staten Island and elsewhere, or are severely restricted in their ability to do business. History shows that if these businesses cannot recover within 6 to 12 months they often do not reopen, or close theirs doors if they cannot return to economic viability. There is a huge loss to the community in terms of economic activity and the loss of jobs.

As Chair of the Assembly Committee on Small Business, I am introducing legislation to create a Severe Weather Business Recovery Tax Credit in New York State. A similar program has been hugely successful in Joplin, Missouri and has greatly aided that city in returning to economic viability after an F5 tornado destroyed Joplin in May, 2011. New Yorkers have been extraordinarily generous with their time and resources during times of crisis, but I hear repeatedly from businesses which have not gotten the resources they need, or have not gotten them in a timely manner. The Business Recovery Tax Credit would provide for a 50% credit on donations of $1,000 or more and donations would go directly to assisting businesses to recover from the effects of the storm. The fund would be overseen by the Empire State Development Corporation, and be administered locally through the Chamber of Commerce.  Donations made through calendar year 2013 would be eligible for the credit.

Local communities need their businesses back, and thriving. Their employees need their jobs back, our regional economy needs these businesses to do well for our economic recovery. A big part of rebuilding these communities involves rebuilding these businesses. When people have their jobs or can find a new one in their community, they are more likely to stay in that community. Hope is restored when people have jobs, and the goods and services that businesses provide. Restoring these businesses will help to restore the community, and residents, not-for-profits and schools all benefit. Even with insurance, bank assistance and federal and local disaster programs, our local businesses need additional assistance. This program will allow those wishing to help out to donate in an organized meaningful manner, while getting something back for their generosity, and helping to rebuild our communities and our economy.

 

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30 NYC schools looted after Sandy


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of schools.nyc.gov

In addition to homes and businesses, 30 schools have reported looting in some of the most Sandy-damaged areas, the New York City Department of Education told NY1.

Looters took $100,000 worth of equipment from Scholars’ Academy in Rockaway Beach. According to NY1, the stolen goods included approximately 90 iPads, six to 10 iMacs and two automated external defibrillators.

Scholars’ Academy is still closed because of storm-related damage, and a recovery and relief fund has been set up to help the institution.

At other schools thieves have taken cameras, calculators and a projector.

The lifted goods are reportedly not covered by insurance.

The NYPD recently reported that most of the 226 Sandy-related arrests were burglaries, and has assigned extra police on extended tours of duty to the Rockaways, Breezy Point, Coney Island and Staten Island. Authorities also brought in light towers, police cars and helicopters to help illuminate those areas.

 

226 Sandy-related arrests mostly burglaries, says NYPD


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

The NYPD is continuing to take measures to combat Sandy-related thefts, as burglaries went up during the week of the storm.

Though burglaries only increased about 11 percent compared to the same week last year, it was the only crime to go up between October 29, the day Sandy hit, and November 4.

In the 100th and 101st Precincts in Queens, which cover some of the superstorm’s hardest hit areas in the Rockaway Peninsula, the uptick in thefts was much more dramatic.

In the 100th, burglaries were up from 2 to 16 from the same week last year and in the 101st there were 33 burglaries, up from zero.

According to authorities, burglaries account for most of the 226 Sandy-related arrests.

With those stats in mind, the NYPD has continued to assign extra police on extended tours of duty to the Rockaways, Breezy Point, Coney Island and Staten Island.

The NYPD has also brought in 500 light towers to neighborhoods still without power and are helping to illuminate those areas with police car and helicopter lights.

Authorities are also warning residents about automobile frauds and thefts related to Sandy.

Tow truck drivers are allegedly taking storm-damaged vehicles without permission, then storing them in private auto pounds and charging exorbitant fees between $1,000 and $2,300 when the owners try to recover their cars, said police.

Additionally, the NYPD said that in other flood disasters, fraudsters will take vehicles that have been declared total losses and instead of scrapping them, will refurbish and resell the cars.

Sandy toll rises to 43 following Queens man’s death


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

After a Far Rockaway man succumbed to injuries resulting from Sandy, the superstorm’s death toll in New York City is now at 43, said the NYPD.

Albert McSwain, 77, a retired custodian at the New York City Police Academy, passed away at Jamaica Hospital on Saturday, November 10, after he was found seriously injured at his 84-10 Rockaway Beach Boulevard apartment building by family members on October 31.

According to authorities, the victim, was found at the bottom of his dark, powerless building’s steps with head and body trauma. He was also paralyzed from the neck down. After finding him, McSwain’s family members were able to summon an ambulance and get him to the hospital.

Earlier this week, the NYPD confirmed victims 41 and 42.

William McKeon, 78, passed away on Wednesday, November 7, at Jamaica Hospital, after he was found inside of 106-20 Shore Front Parkway in Rockaway on Tuesday, unconscious and bleeding from the head, said police.

On Friday, a 64-year-old Staten Island man was found unconscious and unresponsive at 110 Mapleton Avenue. He was pronounced dead at the scene, and his death is believed to be related to Sandy, according to authorities.

Staten Island suffered the most deaths from Sandy, with 23, followed by Queens with 11.

 

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Monday: Overcast. Fog early. High of 63. Winds from the South at 5 to 15 mph. Monday night: Overcast with a chance of rain, then rain showers after midnight. Fog overnight. Low of 52. Winds from the South at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 80%.

EVENT of the DAY: Opening Party – Geisha: The Golden Years 1870-1890

Tonight is the opening party for the exhibition Geisha: The Golden Years 1870-1890 at the Resobox Gallery in Long Island City. The  hand-colored photographs of Geisha and Maiko were used by Dr. Stanley Burns and his daughter Elizabeth to create the book, “Geisha: A Photographic History 1872-1912,” and to show the exotic nature of Japan to the West. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Rockaways homeowners still without power 13 days after Hurricane Sandy

Slow-as-molasses brass of the Long Island Power Authority failed to restore electricity to a storm-battered block of Arverne in the Rockaway Peninsula — even though it passed an electrical inspection with flying colors three days ago. Read more: New York Daily News

Cuomo to seek $30 billion in aid for storm relief

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo plans to ask the federal government for at least $30 billion in disaster aid to help New York City and other affected areas of the state recover from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, according to top administration officials. Read more: New York Times

Battery Tunnel reopens Monday morning but only for express buses into Manhattan

The Battery Tunnel will reopen Monday morning, but only for express buses into Manhattan, officials announced Sunday. Read more: New York Daily News

Gawkers head to NY’s storm-ravaged neighborhoods

Garbage trucks, hulking military vehicles and mud-caked cars move slowly through a Staten Island waterfront neighborhood still reeling from Superstorm Sandy’s storm surge. Then comes an outlier: a spotless SUV with three passengers peering out windows at a mangled home choked with sea grass. Read more: Wall Street Journal

Israeli pilot in JFK bust

An Israeli pilot was busted at Kennedy Airport for trying to bring a retractable baton onto a flight, officials said yesterday. Read more: New York Post

Info emerges about 2nd woman in Petraeus case

As questions swirl about the extramarital affair that led to the resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus, the retired general and his biographer, Paula Broadwell, have been quiet about details of their relationship. Read more: AP

 

Queens Morning Roundup


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Today’s Weather

Friday: Sunny, with a high near 54. Northwest wind 13 to 16 mph. Friday night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 43. Northwest wind 7 to 10 mph.

Event of the Day: William Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale”

E Phoenix Idealis Theater, Inc. delivers this classic story for a modern audience. Directed by Rachel Alt and Ben Fabrizi, it opens November 9 for a limited run at the Poppenhusen Institute in College Point. Find our more or view more events

Gas rationing begins today in NYC

More than a week into the gas shortage, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced an emergency order rationing gas to begin Friday morning at 6. Cars with license plates ending in odd numbers or a letter will be able to purchase gas on odd numbered days; vehicles with plates ending in even numbers can purchase on even numbered days. Read more: Queens Courier

Housing Authority scrambling to restore power to 11 developments in Queens and Brooklyn by this weekend

The Housing Authority is scrambling to restore power by this weekend to 11 developments in Queens and Brooklyn that went dark more than a week ago. It doesn’t look promising. NYCHA Chairman John Rhea on Wednesday said he hoped to accomplish this, but a day later Mayor Bloomberg was saying, “I’m not sure we can make it.” Read more: Daily News

Residents displaced by Sandy are staring at life in Staten Island ‘jail’

The state is eyeing the recently shuttered Arthur Kill Correctional Facility on Staten Island as a temporary home for people displaced by the ravages of Sandy and this week’s nasty nor’easter, officials said yesterday. Closed last December, the medium-security prison could feed and sleep as many as 900 people with nowhere else to go. Read more: NY Post

Students in displaced schools can now attend nearest school they can get to

On Thursday, for the first time since Oct. 26, every New York City public school was open. But nearly 200,000 students were still out, like a Coney Island third grader whose school building was damaged and relocated miles away in Bensonhurst. His elderly grandmother couldn’t get him to the new site. Read more: NY1

Personal items battered by Sandy litter temp landfill in Jacob Riis Park

Baby toys, photo albums, broken china—these are just some precious items that can be found in fast rising heaps of waste at a temporary landfill in Jacob Riis Park. Debris from storm battered Far Rockaway has been piling up at the park’s parking lot –by thousands of tons a day—thanks to sanitation workers who have been clearing thrash and sand-clogged streets. Read more: NY Post

Iran fires at U.S. drone over Persian Gulf, but misses: Pentagon

Iranian attack aircraft fired multiple rounds at an unarmed U.S. drone in international airspace over the Persian Gulf last week, the Pentagon revealed Thursday. The rounds missed. But the incident — the first known attempt by Iranian warplanes to take out a U.S. drone — added intrigue to the extremely tense relationship between between America and Iran. Read more: Daily News

Queens Morning Roundup


| brennison@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Friday: Rain and possibly a thunderstorm before noon, then showers and possibly a thunderstorm, mainly after noon. Some of the storms could produce gusty winds and heavy rain. High near 74. Breezy, with a southeast wind 14 to 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New rainfall amounts between 1 and 2 inches possible. Friday night: Scattered showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 60. West wind 8 to 10 mph becoming northwest after midnight. Chance of precipitation is 40%.

EVENT of the DAY: Ella Fitzgerald

A musical that reflects on the life and songs of the legendary jazz/pop vocalist Ella Fitzgerald at Queens Theatre. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Serial arsonist, who set 13 fires in Queens, arrested

A serial arsonist has been arrested and confessed to setting 13 fires in Flushing, including a three-alarm inferno that injured 19 firefighters and two civilians in August, fire officials said. Thien K. Dinh, 43, of the Bronx, was arraigned in Queens on September 15 and charged with starting a series of fires within a three-week span across Flushing and Murray Hill from August 20 to September 13, according to the district attorney’s office. Read more: Queens Courier

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls on world to block Iran’s nuclear ambitions

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invoked the Holocaust in an impassioned call Thursday for Iran to curtail its efforts to develop nuclear weapons. Netanyahu, warning that Iran could produce a functional nuclear weapon by summer 2013, urged world leaders to impose strict limits on the program’s expansion. Read more: Daily News

Bronx teen admitted he shot mother in sleep, beat her with bat: court records

A cold-blooded Bronx teen admitted he shot his mother while she slept – then beat her with bat as she tried to rise, according to court records. Dee “Darwin” Jackson, 16, made the chilling admission to a police detective on Wednesday, just hours after the remains of his mom, Tihesha Savage, 34, were discovered in a dumpster across the street from the family’s home. Read more: NY Post

Garbage cans waste many parking spots on South Ozone Park streets

Some residents in South Ozone Park, Queens are using garbage cans to save parking in their neighborhood, and Department of Sanitation officials are now pledging to issue summonses if they see trash cans out on the street. Read more: NY1

World’s largest Ferris wheel coming to Staten Island

The Big Apple is getting another “biggest”: the world’s tallest Ferris wheel, part of an ambitious plan to draw New Yorkers and tourists alike to the city’s so-called “forgotten borough.” The 625-foot-tall, $230 million New York Wheel is to grace a spot in Staten Island overlooking the Statue of Liberty and the downtown Manhattan skyline, offering a singular view as it sweeps higher than other big wheels like the Singapore Flyer, the London Eye and a “High Roller” planned for Las Vegas. Read more: NBC NY

Queens’s Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Partly cloudy in the morning, then clear. High of 70. Winds from the NNW at 10 to 15 mph. Wednesday night: Clear. Low of 57. Winds from the NNE at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT of the DAY: Rent A White Guy: The Musical

A new multilingual musical tale about the life of foreigners living in China, Rent A White Guy: The Musical, makes its New York premiere at the Secret Theatre in Long Island City tonight. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

New York area cleans up after strong storms

Residents and municipalities across the New York viewing area are cleaning up after a September storm. Read more: ABC New York

With storm season looming, Broad Channel residents push city to move quickly on flood control plan

Broad Channel residents, facing the annual barrage of autumn storms and floods, say the city is dragging its feet on a plan to repair vulnerable streets. Read more: New York Daily News

Report: Day care owners allegedly defrauded DOE

The owners of several day care centers in Queens are accused of defrauding the Department of Education out of more than $35,000. Read more: NY1

Body of missing scuba diver found

The body of a snorkeler who went missing last week was pulled from the water off Queens Tuesday morning, sources said. Read more: New York Daily News

F.B.I. criticizes officer’s role in a terror case

The undercover New York police detective at the heart of a case against a Queens man accused in a terror plot came under criticism from the Federal Bureau of Investigation for his handling of an earlier terrorism inquiry, according to a legal document. Read more: New York Times

Romney refocuses as Obama decries ‘victim’ claim

Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are moving the presidential campaign back to familiar ground, grappling over the proper role of government in a debate where clumsy, seemingly dismissive statements have made both men susceptible to caricature. Read more: AP