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Archive for the tag 'diane savino'

grimm2

Grimm

Congressman Michael Grimm faces a 20-count indictment for tax evasion and illegal employment practices stemming from a restaurant he operated before running for Congress, charges he said are because the nation’s commander-and-chief wants to see him gone.

Grimm made the allegations against the Obama administration on Tuesday before a gathering of Republican supporters rallying for gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino. He also compared the United States to oppressive regimes in Iran and North Korea.

New York Observer reported on the statements:

“They change policy, they use regulation to legislate, they circumvent the Congress–this is now the norm for the Obama administration,” Mr. Grimm fumed at the Bay Ridge Manor in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

“And when you look and see why they come after me so hard, every day another negative story [against] the only Republican in New York City, it becomes obvious: they don’t want any opposition. This administration wants to do what it wants to do and they want you to forget about the America that you grew up in,” he said.

… “Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I’m not sure what country I’m living in,” he said. “Four Americans are killed and murdered in Benghazi–no one’s held accountable …. The IRS, arguably the most feared agency in our entire government targeting people because of their political views. Now this happens in Iran, this happens in North Korea, but this is the United States of America.”

The site reported that the statements “drew loud cheers.”

Grimm has long maintained that the investigation against him, which began as a probe into his 2010 campaign fundraising, was a “political witch hunt” by Democrats looking to see the city’s lone Republican congressman unseated. Prosecutors, however, have submitted paperwork to the court suggesting that Grimm’s own documents show he kept two sets of books and paid employees – some of which were undocumented immigrants – in cash to avoid taxes.

Grimm’s assertion that he is the subject of political retaliation has sparked snark from colleagues, including State Senator Diane Savino. The pol, whose district is largely within Grimm’s, let forth a tirade on Facebook about Grimm’s conspiracy theory back in April:

[G]et a grip folks, Mikey is not that important, he is no threat to the power structure, he is a slick talker with a nice resume who seems to be in trouble. he was not on track for greatness as a national leader, not on track to upset the national scene. Conspiracy, please….

Grimm pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Source: smokershighlife/Flickr

The bill legalizing medical marijuana passed the State Senate Health Committee on Tuesday, bringing it a step closer to law.

While advocates, including the bill’s sponsor, Senator Diane Savino, celebrated, Capital New York turned to one of the bill’s main opponents, Senator Marty Golden, for his thoughts. What followed was a pretty interesting exchange, in which Republican Golden argues for federal oversight, while Democrat Savino portrays it as a states’ rights issue in which New York must lead the way:

Golden said he believed medical marijuana would be legal at some point in New York, but “I don’t believe it should be now.” He said he would be inclined to support medical marijuana when the Food and Drug Administration supports it at the federal level.

Savino delivered an impassioned response.

“I wish, I really wish that the F.D.A. would move, but as it’s been noted in the past, the F.D.A takes its own sweet time,” Savino said. “In the meantime, people suffer. Children suffer. People die.

“Why is it so important for us to act before the F.D.A finally decides to do it? Because in so many ways, Senator Golden, New York is the watershed state,” she said. “As New York goes, so goes the nation. And we, if we are successful in establishing the tightest most regulated program in the country, we will become the model and the F.D.A. will finally acknowledge that they have been sticking their head in the sand about this issue for far too long.”

I’m not quite sure when, in the course of recent history, Democrats became the party of states’ rights and Republicans became the party of broader federal powers, but medical marijuana is hardly the only issue to exhibit the new paradigm (DOMA, anybody?).

Regardless, it’s not yet clear whether the bill will come to a floor for a full vote during the current session. Although it’s garnered some Republican support, and Savino said she has enough votes to pass it, Republican leadership remains cold to the idea and introduced a competing bill last week that does not allow any smokeable forms of the drug to be used for any reason.

Guys. Hey, guys. Chill out. Light some incense, man. Maybe put on some Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Groove for a minute in that beanbag chair.

Then pick up the phone and call your state lawmaker and tell them that their opposition to the Compassionate Care Act legalizing medical marijuana is just, like, their opinion, man. And they should get over it. And vote yes.

If you’re state Senator is Diane Savino, that’s one less phone call you’ll have to make, because she’s the one telling you to do this. Savino released a video this week making her case for the legislation, which she sponsored and continues to spearhead.

NYStateOfPolitics reports:

[Savino] and the Assembly sponsor, Manhattan Democrat Richard Gottfried, have amended [the act] in hopes of appealing to their on-the-fence colleagues who tend to be more conservative on this issue.

Changes include a ban on people under 21 from smoking pot and changes to the medical conditions that would be covered by the new law – for example, glaucoma is out, but rheumatoid arthritis is in. The amended act also creates an advisory panel that includes medical experts to guide the implementation of the law and prevent a free-for-all from occurring.

Savino, who represents Coney Island, Gravesend, Brighton Beach, Bath Beach and Staten Island, told the outlet she has 39 “yes” votes, enough to pass the act in the Senate. It could come to the floor soon.

You can watch the video in full above, but here’s the gist of it:

“This bill will will ensure that those suffering with the most debilitating illnesses have access to the safe and responsible use of medical marijuana. Right now, 21 states have already adopted their own medical marijuana laws, and others are following their lead. It’s time New York gets with the program.”

… “We shouldn’t handcuff our doctors from making the best decision on how to treat their patients. We may have the facts on our side – but we still need your support. That’s why I’m asking you to contact your legislator and urge them to vote for the Compassionate Care Act. It’s the right thing to do. Together — with your help — I know we’ll make this a reality. Thank you.”

Source: Thomas Good via Wikimedia Commons

The glasses are coming off for this one. State Senator Diane Savino (Source: Thomas Good via Wikimedia Commons)

Last week, the city mistakenly transferred nearly $300 million into the bank accounts of 31,000 retired cops and firefighters, a blunder that State Senator Diane Savino and other Senate leaders will soon investigate through hearings.

The Daily News wrote:

The city Financial Information Services Agency, which is jointly overseen by the offices of the city controller and the mayor, electronically transferred a $12,000-per-person supplement normally distributed in December. The city on Friday began getting the money back.

“This is a major screwup,” said Sen. Diane Savino, the Staten Island Democrat who chairs the Senate Labor Committee that will hold the hearing jointly with the chamber’s Civil Service and Pensions Committee. “How do you just release $300 million? How does that happen?

City officials blamed a coding error as the city was testing out a new direct-deposit program.

But Savino and the other members of the committee aren’t satisfied with that excuse. Savino said they will try to find out if there were oversight problems or software glitches. Savino and her colleagues also hope to find out whether or not similar incidents have occurred before.

In the meantime, JPMorgan Chase, the city’s custodian bank, restored all funds to the pension system as it works to recover the payouts from the retirees.

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 TheTollsAreTooDamnHigh.com, 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.

savino

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.

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