Political Potpourri: Council Members Grateful to DOE

April 12, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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It’s not often that elected officials have kind words for the New York City Department of Education. But three Council members — Vincent Gentile, David Greenfield and Sara González — are praising the agency for its decision to spare Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School in Bensonhurst from closure.

The school, located at 5800 20th Ave., had been slated for closure until Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott reversed his earlier decision and opted to allow the school to remain open.

“I’m relieved that the Department of Education and Schools Chancellor Walcott reconsidered this misguided decision and will help FDR continue the gains it has made, instead of punishing its administrators and teachers,” Greenfield said.
“I appreciate Chancellor Walcott’s recognition of the progress made by the dedicated and hardworking administrators, educators, staff and especially the students and their families,” González said.

Gentile said that while he was happy with the way things turned out, he was troubled by the fact that FDR High School was on the chopping block in the first place.

“In the end, the Department of Education could offer no explanation as to why it planned to shut down FDR High School for poor performance after giving them a high grade just last fall,” he said.

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Do you know any great women or military veterans? If you do, then you should contact state Sen. Marty Golden.

Golden is looking for nominees for the Women of Distinction Award to be handed out in Albany on May 15, as well as nominees for the state Senate’s Veterans’ Hall of Fame, to be rededicated on May 22.

The Senate will honor a distinguished woman from each state Senate district in the May 15 ceremony, during which the honoree’s photograph and biography will become part of a special exhibition in the Capitol.

“There are remarkable women in our midst whose lives, work or special accomplishments contribute to making our communities better, making our families stronger, and serve as special examples to others,” Golden said.
On May 22, the Senate will honor veterans by inducting new members to the Veterans’ Hall of Fame.

“The Senate takes this opportunity to honor the brave men and women who serve our nation and protect our freedom as members of the military. The Senate Veterans’ Hall of Fame pays tribute to all who serve, but also singles out for special recognition those whose sacrifices and service have helped make our nation and our community better places to live,” Golden said.

To nominate someone for either honor, request a form from Golden’s office at (718) 238-6044, or email [email protected].

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Andrew Gounardes, the Democratic candidate for Marty Golden’s Senate seat, agrees that the city shouldn’t close the McKinley Beacon Center.

The Department of Youth and Community Development is seeking to close seven Beacon after-school centers around the city, including the Beacon program house at McKinley Intermediate School at 7301 Fort Hamilton Parkway.

“I was heartbroken when I heard that the city plans to cut funding for Beacon after-school programs this year,” Gounardes said. “One in three New York City youth live in poverty. Others battle drug abuse right here in our backyard. Many more attend overcrowded and underfunded schools. The last thing this city should be doing is balancing its budget by cutting programs that provide literacy training, college prep, after-school tutoring and, most importantly, a safe space for our kids to learn.”

Gounardes said he is joining an effort by Vincent Gentile to fight for the McKinley Beacon center. Gentile started an online petition drive.

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The Bay Ridge Democrats will hold their next meeting on Thursday, April 12, at Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, 7420 Fourth Ave., at 7:30 p.m.

The guest speaker will be Dr. Seymour Lachman, a former state senator. Lachman is also a former member of the New York City Board of Education.

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It should be easier for Polish citizens to obtain U.S. visas, according to U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer.

Schumer introduced a bill to make Poland eligible for the U.S.’s visa waiver program. The program allows citizens from selected countries to have to ability to travel more easily into the U.S. instead of going through the lengthy and complicated visa process.

“Poland is one of our closest and best allies and the Polish-American community in America is vast and vibrant. Finally permitting Poland to enter the visa waiver program is not only the right thing to do, it will also boost our economy,” Schumer said. “With Polish citizens fighting side by side with soldiers in Afghanistan, it boggles the mind that they can’t even visit the United States without a visa.”

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Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis is continuing her war against the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, specifically her effort to get the agency out of the real estate business.

Malliotakis has been arguing for months that the Port Authority wastes millions of dollars in bad real estate dealings while at the same time raising tolls on bridges.

“The Port Authority estimates over $16.6 million in losses on real estate for 2011, $3.6 million of which was squandered on the Essex County Resource Recovery Plant, a waste-to-energy facility that is certainly outside the scope of the Port Authority’s stated mission to manage and maintain the region’s trade and transportation network,” Malliotakis wrote in a letter to Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye.

In her letter, Malliotakis suggested that the Port Authority divest itself of its real estate holdings.

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