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Archive for the tag 'diane savino'

Source: Ibagli via Wikimedia Commons

Source: Ibagli via Wikimedia Commons

The campaign to pressure the Metropolitan Transit Authority to expand the multi-trip discount toll discount plan on the Verrazano-Narrows bridge to Brooklynites has kicked up a notch, with Senator Marty Golden and Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis launching a petition and website to that end.

The petition is hosted at, It reads:

In 2012, in response to public outcry, the Port Authority created a bridge discount program, providing Brooklyn residents traveling over the Goethals Bridge, Outerbridge Crossing, and the Bayonne Bridge three times or more a month with a 58% discount.

Senator Golden has proposed that the MTA provide the same plan for Brooklynites who frequently use the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Assemblywoman Malliotakis has joined him to create this petition to help residents facing skyrocketing tolls when crossings the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Under the plan, residents traveling over the Verrazano Bridge would receive a 58% discount from the $15 cash price to be applied to EZ-Pass holders who travel over the bridge 3 or more times a month. This means that an EZ-Pass holder would see their toll price reduced from roughly $10.50 to $6.30.

Residents can sign the petition by visiting the website, or one of the elected officials’ district offices.

In February, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a deal giving Staten Island EZ-Pass holders a toll break on the Verrazano Bridge. The plan grants Island commuters the discount laid out in the Golden-Malliotakis petition, but denies it to residents of other boroughs.

Area pols immediately criticized the deal, calling it unfair that Brooklynites were left out. Golden, Councilmember Vincent Gentile, State Senator Diane Savino and Borough President Eric Adams all spoke out against it. Gentile later introduced a resolution to the City Council calling for the MTA to give Brooklyn residents a matching deal.

Golden and Malliotakis launched their petition Friday.

“The rising cost of the Verrazano Bridge toll has become prohibitive not only for Staten Island residents, but for Brooklyn residents as well,” said Golden in a press release. “Even though people who live in my district are going the opposite way of those who live in Staten Island, the cost is the same, and therefore, the discount should be the same.”

On the news of the petition’s launch, Gentile and Adams released a joint statement praising the effort and calling for unity in the fight for toll equity:

We thank State Senator Golden and Assembly Member Malliotakis for joining our community’s fight to address disparity in the new tolling plan for the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. We cannot stand for the unfair penalizing of Brooklynites that work, go to school or have family members on Staten Island, Brooklynites that use this bridge every day. In this spirit, we are jointly introducing a City Council resolution calling on the Metropolitan Transit Authority to consider the impact of the current pricing scheme on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge on both the residents of Brooklyn and Staten Island. Both boroughs, as well as the elected officials who represent them, need to stand in unity on this issue. That is why we will be proud to be among the first to sign the new petition calling for toll relief for Brooklynites, and that is why we look forward to furthering our efforts to achieve a truly ‘fair fare’ on this thoroughfare.

State Senator Diane Savino put out the following message on Facebook, telling her colleagues in government – and, “hell, [those with] and anonymous existence” – to keep their wangs and mammilla in private where they belong.


The message comes after Orange County GOP boss Robert Krahulik announced a leave of absence after sending photos of his genitalia to his 26-year-old ex girlfriend.

[via Daily News]

Source: Thomas Good via Wikimedia Commons

State Senator Diane Savino (Source: Thomas Good via Wikimedia Commons)

Senator Diane Savino supports more than just looser marijuana laws. She has also come out in support of free tuition of undergraduates in CUNY and SUNY schools.

The idea was first proposed by Assemblyman James Skoufis, and Savino said that if it reached the Senate floor she would sponsor it. Free tuition for CUNY and SUNY students has always been a politically controversial topic, ranging from CUNY students protesting tuition hikes to demanding free education. At one point in the city’s history, CUNY was actually free for a brief period in the 70s and since then there have been frequent calls for a return to free tuition.

If Savino and Skoufis are successful, the free tuition will come with some strings attached, according to a Hudson Valley article:

Under Tuition-Free NY (A8585), students enrolled in science, technology, engineering and math programs would have to perform 125 hours of community service for each year they receive free tuition. All other students benefiting from the program would have to perform 250 hours of community service per year.

In the 70s, free tuition only lasted for six years due to a financial crisis and the threat of the city going into bankruptcy, according to CUNY’s news wire.

Community Board 11 met last night. As no resolutions or proposals were in the agenda, the members of the board discussed various community issues.

Chairman of the Community Board Bill Guarinello started the meeting off as he usually does, by hitting his gavel, just like one you might see on television, onto a wooden base. And with it, public officials’ representatives made their usual public announcements.

  • Diane Savino’s representative recalled an encounter she had with an old man that morning. After leaving Savino’s Coney Island office on West 15th Street she saw an old man lying on the floor. When she called the ambulance they said he was suffering from hypothermia. With that grim account, the representative reminded everyone to check on the elders in their neighborhood and to not just step over frozen senior bodies. Savino is a New York State Senator representing parts of Staten Island and Southern Brooklyn.
  • Councilman Vincent Gentile’s representative updated the board on his recently announced graffiti program, in which a local non-profit has received public funds to power-wash graffiti away. In the cold, the representative noted, they may not be able to power wash right away.
  • New York Police Department 62nd Precinct’s Captain William Taylor said that the police were closing in on the graffiti artist who spray paints the face of Abraham Lincoln on the sides of walls. After the meeting, the Bensonhust Bean asked him to elaborate on what it meant to be “closing in” on a suspect. Taylor, the commanding officer of the 62nd Precinct, took his words back and said they actually weren’t closing in on anybody.

After this portion of the meeting, Guarinello and Marnee Elias- Pavia, the district manager, attended to other issues. Guarinello urged the Community Board members who were involved with the board’s committees to actually show up to the meetings for those committees.

“Otherwise it’s just a room with the public and maybe one community member,” Guarinello said. “Let’s be respectful of the public’s time and show up to these meetings.”

Elias-Pavia then explained why the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is performing construction on Shore Parkway between 21st Avenue and 16th Avenue. Apparently, she said, some manhole covers in that area had become so corroded that they weren’t able to open them anymore so they were replacing them. She also noted that new benches would be put on 7th Avenue and New Utrecht Avenue.

With that, Guarinello ended the meeting by once again using the gavel.

(Editor’s note: This article was shortened from a previous version to remove a segment of information we determined to be irrelevant.)

Source: Thomas Good via Wikimedia Commons

State Senator Diane Savino (Source: Thomas Good via Wikimedia Commons)

State Senator Diane Savino, who represents parts of Coney Island, Gravesend, Brighton Beach and Bensonhurst, thinks highly of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to get groovy with medical marijuana.

News came of Cuomo’s change of heart – he previously said “absolutely not” to medical marijuana advocates as recently as a year ago – on Saturday, when the New York Times reported the governor would announce an executive action allowing limited use of marijuana by those with serious illnesses.

The action is a much more modest step than other states that permit medical marijuana, limiting distribution to just 20 hospitals across a state of 19.5 million people. Prescriptions will only be given to patients with cancer, glaucoma and other diseases determined by the state Department of Health. The program is expected to be formally announced on Wednesday during Cuomo’s State of the State address.

For Savino, who has long been a proponent of medical marijuana and has repeatedly offered up legislation authorizing its distribution (to no avail), it’s a win for seriously ill patients.

“The most important thing is that it’s an acknowledgement that the benefits outweigh the risks,” told the Staten Island Advance. “Compared to where we were last year, when Cuomo said absolutely not, I’m very pleased … It’s a great first step.”

Details about the policy and program are still vague, and Savino hopes to work alongside Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, who sponsored the medical marijuana bill in the Assembly, to flesh out details with the Cuomo administration.

Savino’s bill stalled in the Senate year after year due to Republican opposition. It passed the Assembly four times, and 82 percent of New York voters approve of medical marijuana. Cuomo’s action side steps the legislature altogether.

Shawn White was found shot to death on Thursday in a building at West 27th Street and Surf Avenue. (Source: Google Maps)

Shawn White was found shot to death on Thursday in a building at West 27th Street and Surf Avenue. (Source: Google Maps)

Police say they have arrested Johnny Velez Garcia, who they believe is the deadly gunman responsible for one of two fatal shootings in Coney Island last week.

Garcia is accused of shooting and killing Shawn White in the fourth-floor stairwell of the Coney Island high-rise building at West 27th Street and Surf Avenue, where the victim lived.

White, 25, was found with several gunshots to the head, torso and leg at approximately 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 26. According to News 12, police say White was killed by his friend over a dispute regarding a girl.

It was the second deadly shooting in as many days, with 17-year-old Yaquin English killed in front of his home in the Gravesend Houses.

The shootings spurred community members to call a meeting to discuss gun violence in the neighborhood, where they discussed calling for security cameras and greater police presence.


Mathylde Frontus led the meeting at the Urban Neighborhood Services

by Steven Volynets

Following the second fatal shooting in as many days, Coney Island residents and local leaders met at the Urban Neighborhood Services (UNS) office (1718 Mermaid Avenue) on Friday to voice concern over the growing number of gun deaths in the area.

On Christmas Eve, 17-year-old Yaquin English was shot to death in front of his home in the Gravesend Houses at 3144 Bay View Avenue. Just two days later, a man was shot dead on Thursday inside a Coney Island high-rise building on West 27th Street and Surf Avenue.

Shawn White, 25, was found on the fourth floor stairwell with several gunshot wounds to the head, torso and leg at approximately 9:30 p.m. First responders pronounced the victim dead on arrival, according to the NYPD.

Shawn White was found shot to death on Thursday in a building at West 27th Street and Surf Avenue. (Source: Google Maps)

Shawn White was found shot to death on Thursday in a building at West 27th Street and Surf Avenue. (Source: Google Maps)

The spate of deadly shootings has left community members grappling for an effective response to the violence, which UNS noted seemed concentrated in public housing.

Community members, including parents, a teacher and local clergy, discussed drafting a letter to local officials calling for more cameras and greater police presence throughout Coney Island neighborhoods.

“What can we ask of our State Senator Diane Savino? What can we ask of our Congressman Hakeem Jeffries?” said UNS Director Mathylde Frontus, who organized the event. Congressman Jeffries’s representative Lee Church and Victoria Lynch, president of Coney Island Site 8 Residents Association, attended the meeting.

Gravesend Houses, where Yaquin English was shot to death on Christmas Eve (Source: Google Maps)

Also present, Rhonda Brown Moore, board member of Man Up, a Brownsville-based neighborhood improvement organization, said Coney Island could benefit from one of their anti-violence programs.

“We have men in vans patrolling the neighborhood in the middle of the night, talking to some of the people doing the shootings,” Moore said.

Frontus also stressed greater involvement of local business owners and corporate interests.

“A lot of money is hovering over us, but nothing is trickling down to the community,” she said. That money, she added, could fund programs like Man Up, as well as art, music and sports activities for Coney Island youth.

Source: Thomas Good via Wikimedia Commons

Back in June we covered State Senator Diane Savino’s effort - and the Senate’s failure – to legalize medical marijuana. At the time, she blamed the political system for stifling an issue that the public supported. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor Andrew Cuomo were blamed for killing any political support for medical marijuana.

The New York State Assembly passed medical marijuana laws in the past, but the measures never pass the Senate when it was Republican led. Savino, a member of the Independent Democratic Caucus that currently shares power with the Republicans, was optimistic when it was introduced last year. It still didn’t make it to the floor, but Savino wasn’t discouraged.

To help move the effort forward, she’s working with advocacy organizations like the Drug Policy Alliance and their director Julie Netherland.

She’s also teamed up with Manhattan’s Assemblyman Richard N. Gottfried. The Star-Gazette reported this morning that Gottfried held a hearing last Wednesday on Long Island to drum up support as Savino prepares to reintroduce legislation for medical marijuana.

“New York is a progressive state on a lot of issues, but drug policy is not one of them,” Savino told the paper. “We have some of the most draconian laws in the country.”

Source: Senator Golden's offices

State Senator Marty Golden (Source: Senator Golden’s offices)

New York Times columnist Michael Powell took State Senator Marty Golden and Sheepshead Bay’s State Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz to task for sponsoring legislation that would have directed millions of dollars to the tobacco industry, and came, Powell writes, at the behest of a campaign contributor.

The legislation in question is a bill to reform the security tax stamp placed on cigarettes that proponents said would help combat cigarette bootlegging and raise $6 million for enforcement.

But in reality, Powell writes, it would have authorized an increase in payments for cigarette wholesalers who place the stamps, raising the take from two cents per pack to five cents per pack.

When Golden was questioned during a hearing on the bill by State Senator Liz Krueger about the increase, he chalked it up to rising costs.

Mr. Golden began to mutter of higher costs for wholesalers: Con Ed, health benefits, gasoline, rent, trucks, whatever. “That’s all increased much more than the dollars that we are asking for here,” he said, a touch plaintively.

This was not true, at least percentagewise. A 1996 dollar, adjusted for inflation, is worth $1.49 today. The bill backed by Mr. Golden and Mr. [Jeff] Klein, who intently watched this debate from his desk, would more than double the revenue of the wholesale firms.

Klein, leader of the Independent Democratic Conference, which shares power with the Republican party in the State Senate after forming an unusual alliance that shut Democrats out of leadership, co-authored the bill with Golden.

It was introduced in the State Assembly by Cymbrowitz.

According to the Times report, the bill was put forward at the behest of Leonard Schwartz, a Manhattan Beach resident and chairman of Global Wholesale Tobacco. Schwartz has been a generous contributor to the campaign coffers of Klein, Golden and, less so, Cymbrowitz.

Of course, none of this is illegal, and the bill eventually died. But Powell opines that it’s deeply symptomatic of the pay-to-play culture that pervades Albany, wherein politicians can legally except funds from corporate interests, and then push legislation that steers large sums of money into their pockets.

Neither Golden nor Cymbrowitz commented on the bill to the New York Times. But a Klein ally, Senator Diane Savino, who represents Coney Island, went on the attack when asked about it by Politicker yesterday:

“I think people should take a step back and stop pretending to be outraged because it’s absolute nonsense,” Ms. Savino told Politicker at a Hurricane Sandy press conference in Coney Island. “You can take any issue and you can find a way to twist it to make it seem like something nefarious. In every one of these articles you see is a caveat there: ‘There’s nothing illegal about this.’ Well if that’s the case, why are you writing it?”

It’s worth noting that Savino, too, has benefited from Schwartz’s largesse. He donated $500 to her campaign in 2012, according to state campaign filings.

Powell, though, responded by pointing out that it’s his duty as a reporter to point out transactions of questionable ethics, even if it’s not against the law – especially when the subjects are those who make the law.

“If all we wrote about was the illegality in Albany without looking at all the shades of moral and ethical murk that encompass it, we wouldn’t be doing our jobs as journalists,” Powell told Politicker. “If a politician does hack work, the politician can’t really complain.”

For the Republican senator, the news comes on the heels of another alleged pay-to-play scheme, in which Golden introduced legislation that would grant large tax breaks to five luxury developments in Manhattan, saving them tens of millions of dollars. The tax breaks were intended to spur residential construction and affordable housing, but the luxury properties were included under an exception proposed by Golden in the Senate, and Keith Wright in the Assembly.

The developers had contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to leadership in both parties, including Golden.

When asked, Golden could not explain who added the giveaway to the legislation, or what justified it. The Moreland Commission, charged with investigating corruption in Albany, subpoenaed the developers in August.

Source: Facebook

Source: Facebook

Representative Michael Grimm (R), was ripped by Brooklyn and Staten Island Democrats for voting to continue the government shutdown while at the same time making television appearances where he states he is against it. SI Live is reporting that two dozen Staten Island-based Democratic leaders spoke out against Grimm outside the closed Gateway National Recreational Area.

Democrats like State Senator Diane Savino and Councilman Domenic Recchia, who is running against Grimm in the upcoming 2014 election, stepped up their criticism of Grimm with heated rhetoric:

Recchia also said Grimm (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn) ”has been trying to have it both ways, voting to shut down the government while going on television saying he’s against a shutdown.”

“Enough of the talking points and the television appearances and the games,” said state Sen. Diane Savino, who joined Recchia and two dozen Island Democrats outside the gates of the shuttered-to-the-public Gateway National Recreation Area, Fort Wadsworth…

Recchia and Ms. Savino said that if the shutdown continues into next week, it will have a “ripple effect” on local businesses and eateries and the borough’s economy overall.

“He says he doesn’t want a shutdown, so let your actions speak louder than your words,” said Recchia of Grimm. “Instead, he falls in line, behind [Speaker John] Boehner, who delayed the vote on Sandy aid. He’s trying to have it both ways. He is misleading the people of New York and the people of New York are smart.”

Recchia also accused Grimm of voting against a clean CR (continuing resolution) Wednesday night, despite having said previously he would support one — which would have the effect of keeping the government operational for a week or two while the Senate takes up House objections to Obamacare.

In his defense, Grimm laid out his position, in which he cast himself as a member of a splinter Republican effort to end the shutdown. The Daily Kos published part of a press release put out by the congressman:

To be clear, I do not support a government shutdown, no matter what the objective is. While I have consistently stated my opposition to Obamacare, I do not believe that shutting down the government and abandoning vital public services is an acceptable way to address issues of policy. It is unconscionable to do this at the expense of seniors, military service members, and other federal workers and ordinary civilians dependant on the continued functioning of our government. I have heard from many constituents in the past week, and I truly understand the pain that this gridlock is causing across our district and the entire country.

Rest assured that I, like you, know we must end this shutdown immediately. That is why I am one of three Republicans leading the effort to strongly urge my leadership to reach a compromise while garnering support from other pragmatic members to bolster our position and end this shutdown.

As we previously reported, Grimm indeed voted for the initial bill that led to the government shutdown. At the time, Grimm argued to the New York Daily News that he voted for the bill because he was in favor of an amendment that would deny Congressmen better health care than the poorest Americans would receive from Obamacare. Despite Grimm’s words, Democrats were not buying it, arguing that his Tea Party ties would hurt the city:

Meanwhile, Recchia and Ms. Savino said that with non-essential employees at HUD, SBA, FEMA and the Interior Department furloughed, Sandy money not already allocated could be stalled in the pipeline.

They also suggested that if the shutdown continues through this month, it could deal a huge economic blow to the city by putting the New York City Marathon in peril. The marathon was canceled last year in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

“Send a message to Michael Grimm that we are not fooled by what you are saying on TV,” said Recchia.

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