19th Council District: Throw Another Hat in the Ring

Tom Cooke

Tom Cooke

The race for City Council in the 19th CD is really heating up. Tom Cooke will be officially adding his name to an already crowded field of qualified candidates. He joins Jerry Iannece, Paul Vallone, Steve Behar & Debra Markell who are all seeking the Democratic nomination for the seat being vacated by Tony Avella. John Frank is also expected to soon announce his entry into what promises to be an interesting contest.

As of this date there are no declared Republicans. This is one district in which Republicans have consistently been able to run competitive races.

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Avella: Legalize Sports Betting as a Cash Cow for the City

Cash Cow aka Legalized Sports Betting

Cash Cow aka Legalized Sports Betting

Queens Chronicle

02/05/2009
Avella attacks mayor over budget proposal
by Peter C. Mastrosimone , Editor-in-Chief

A key Queens lawmaker who intends to run for the city’s highest office blasted Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s budget plan this week as unnecessarily draconian.
City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) contends that the spending cuts and layoffs Bloomberg proposed for fiscal 2010, which begins July 1, could all be avoided if his own ideas were implemented instead.
The city is facing a $4 billion deficit in 2010, according to the administration’s latest estimate. Just two months ago, the shortfall was pegged at only $1.3 billion. And the city has already made $2.4 billion in cuts; otherwise the mayor says the gap would be projected at $6.4 billion.
The reason of course is the continuing economic slide and resultant decrease in city tax revenues.
In a budgetary statement issued last week, Bloomberg said the city needs help from the state and federal governments, as well as municipal unions here, to avoid deeper cuts. And he cited the mid-year reductions already approved by the City Council as crucial.
“The tough decisions we made over the last year prevented the current deficit from being unmanageable, and we now have a plan to close that deficit,” Bloomberg said. “We will do our part by cutting nearly another $1 billion in agency spending, and the wise choices we made when the economy was booming have helped, allowing us to pay down billions of dollars in expenses for future years.”
Avella, however, has a different take.
“I think there’s no way we should be doing layoffs in this economy,” he said Tuesday. “That’s a catch-22 situation. They have less money, they may go on unemployment; it’s like raising taxes. It doesn’t solve anything.”
Avella cited Bloomberg’s plans to delay the hiring of more police officers and to close some fire companies at night as among the worst of his proposals. “That’s stupid and puts people’s lives in jeopardy,” he said.
The councilman claimed the budget gap could be closed just by eliminating waste in city agencies and by enacting one of his longtime proposals: legalizing sports betting and turning it into a cash cow for the city.
If the city would just go after people who damage public property, it could raise as much as $100 million a year, Avella asserted, saying the Police Department alone spends $3 million annually to fix patrol cars hit by other drivers.
Meanwhile sports betting generates anywhere from $15 to $30 billion a year for organized crime syndicates, he said — money that would close the budget gap and then some.
Mayoral officials could not immediately be reached for a response, but have said in the past that Avella is just politicking when he criticizes Bloomberg. He is one of several officials who plan to challenge the mayor in this year’s election. The councilman said the fact that he has been proposing the same measures for years shows that he is sincere.

DOT Tells Motorists & Pedestrians Where To Go But Won’t Let Them Get There Safely

Unsafe at any speed.

Unsafe at any speed.

BAYSIDE TIMES

DOT Tells Motorists & Pedestrians Where To Go But Won’t Let Them Get There Safely.

Avella seeks traffic signal at 19th Ave. and Utopia Pkwy.

By Nathan Duke
Wednesday, January 28, 2009 5:05 PM EST

Councilman Tony Avella says he is upset that the city denied his request to place a traffic signal at the intersection of Utopia Parkway and 19th Avenue, which he says is dangerous.
City Councilman Tony Avella (D−Bayside) slammed the city Department of Transportation last week for denying his request for the installation of a traffic signal at an intersection on the border of Bayside and Whitestone that has been the site of numerous accidents.

Avella said there have been multiple accidents in recent years at the intersection of 19th Avenue and Utopia Parkway, located along the border of Bayside and Whitestone. But he said the DOT has repeatedly decided against putting up a traffic signal at the site, the councilman said.

“Time and time again, there have been accidents at this location, demonstrating the need for additional traffic controls,” Avella said. “It is completely unacceptable for the DOT to continue to ignore numerous requests from myself and the community for an all−way−stop or traffic signal, which would truly safeguard the lives of motorists, pedestrians and residents of this community.”

A spokeswoman for Avella said the DOT rejected the councilman’s latest request on Jan. 16. She said the most recent accident at the site took place in August, when a driver crashed into an apartment building at the corner of the intersection. She said the driver suffered minor injuries.

A DOT spokeswoman said the intersection did not meet federal regulation standards for the installation of a traffic signal, but that the agency has narrowed driving lanes on Utopia Parkway in an effort to increase safety along the roadway. She said there have been no fatalities at the site during the past five years and only two reported accidents that produced more than $1,000 in damages. She said there have been about three crashes per year for the past five years at the intersection.

Avella said the city uses federal DOT standards when it comes to analyzing accidents, using the same criteria for states like Wyoming and Idaho.

“New York City is extremely large and experiences a lot more traffic than your average city and, as a result, should apply our own traffic control standards.”

In 2002, the councilman introduced two bills that would require the city’s DOT to create its own standards for accidents based on traffic situations in the five boroughs. He reintroduced the proposed legislation in 2006 and amended it to require insurance companies to provide the DOT with statistics for all motor vehicle accidents on city streets and highways.

Cell Phone Towers Free of Municipal Oversight

Cell Tower Siting Requires Municipal Oversight

Cell Tower Siting Requires Municipal Oversight

Councilmember Tony Avella has taken the lead in opposing a proposal that would allow the siting of Cell Phone Towers without municipal oversight. Follow the link below for the whole story.

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