The Political Scene
Rep. Anthony Weiner applauded the passage of legislation providing $298 million in hiring grants for the popular Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, allowing for 1,500 new police officers to be hired nationwide.
As a result of this proposed funding, Weiner noted, the NYPD could hire—based on historical funding trends—up to 105 additional officers to keep New York’s streets safe. The bill passed the House of Representative 221-202, with one member abstaining.
“Our safety challenges can’t take a backseat to our economic ones,” Weiner said. “More cops mean less violent crimes and greater vigilance against terrorism—and the federal government will help pay for them.”
Earlier this year, the House passed Weiner’s COPS bill, which would add 50,000 new beat cops to streets in cities across America over the next five years. Additionally, the stimulus bill added $1 billion to the COPS hiring program, which led to an additional 4,700 officers on the streets nationwide.
Created in 1994 by then-President Bill Clinton, the COPS program provides localities with a three-year federal grant for the specific purpose of hiring or rehiring new police officers. Grants have provided localities with $9 billion since 1994 to hire 117,000 police officers nationwide, including nearly 7,000 in New York City.
According to a 2005 Government Accountability Office report, between 1998 and 2000, police officers retained through COPS hiring grants were responsible for reducing crimes by about 200,000 to 225,000 incidents— one-third of which were violent.
City Council Member-elect Dan Halloran rallied with civic leaders and residents outside the Queens Department of Buildings (DOB) office in Kew Gardens last Wednesday, Dec. 9, to call for an investigation following revelations of apparently false complaints filed by inspectors against thousands of Queens homeowners.
According to Halloran, who will take office in the Bayside-based 19th City Council District in January, many of the complaints were filed based on seemingly “phantom inspections that were never actually made.”
An examination of the complaints filed against lots in College Point, Flushing and Whitestone found that the violations were levied against homes that no longer existed or properties lacking the structural features identified. The complaints were reportedly filed in a pattern where certain lot numbers in a neighborhood were all cited for the same violation, such as illegal conversions, even in cases where no such conversion took place.
“DOB inspectors and officials work for us, the taxpayers of our city,” Halloran said. “A fraud appears to have been perpetrated using our tax dollars and those responsible should be held accountable. That is why I am calling for an investigation by Attorney General [Andrew] Cuomo, District Attorney [Richard A.] Brown and the New York City Department of Investigation.”
The Council Member-elect added that he would also call for special hearings on the matter in the City Council upon taking office next month.
More Aid Needed To
Feed N.Y.’s Hungry
With more than 800,000 New York households not knowing when their next meal will come and food banks across the country experiencing shortages, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has introduced legislation designed to double federal funding and increase charitable donations this Christmas holiday season.
Gillibrand called for increases to the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and making the Good Samaritan Hunger Relief Tax Incentive program permanent to encourage more businesses to fill food banks with unused food items and extend tax credits that incentivize seniors to donate portions of their retirement savings to New York charities.
“The holiday season is a time for giving, but because of the bad economy, New York families that typically donate food, warm clothes and other basics to those in need just can’t afford to this year,” Gillibrand said. “We need to make sure we’re helping New York children and families who were hit the hardest by this economy.”
As noted, due to rising food prices and poverty, over half of surveyed emergency food providers reported a shortfall in food resources in October, according to FeedingAmerica, a nonprofit national network of food banks. The Economic Recovery Act passed earlier this year helped stock some of New York City’s food pantries and soup kitchens, but many are still forced to turn away the hungry because of shortages.
Across the state, more families are going hungry and do not know when their next meal will come. Approximatively 800,000 households in New York State, including 340,000 in New York City, are considered to be food insecure—meaning that they are uncertain of having or unable to acquire enough food for all family members. Since 2006, the number of meals served by emergency food outlets in New York State rose by nearly 60 million—an increase of 55 percent.
Political Scene does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Times Newsweekly/Ridgewood Times. All submitted press releases are subject to editing. Send press contact information by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by fax to 1-718-456-0120.
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