Bronx Political Round Up: Salamanca Hits Gold

NY City Hall — Council Chambers, East Wing

Bronx Councilman Salamanca Lands Prestigous, Powerful Land Use Committee

Last week, the New York City Council held its first Stated meeting of the year, where Council Members were assigned their new committee memberships. As chairman of the powerful and prestious Land Use Committee, Bronx Democrat Councilman Rafael Salamanca, Jr. will head one of the most powerful and prestigious Council committees. A number of important land use decisions, including Bronx rezonings and Mayor de Blasio’s affordable housing program.

Although he’s been in the council for almost three years, Salamanca is in the first full month of his first 4-year term. In February 2015, Salamanca won a six-person special election to fill out the term of ex-councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo.

Councilman Ritchie Torres moves over from the public housing commitee to chair the potentially powerful Oversight and Investigations committee. Fordham Council Member Fernando Cabrera will chair the Committee on Governmental Operations, taking over from Manhattan Council Member Ben Kallos.

Council veterans Vanessa Gibson (D-Morrisania/Highbridge) and Andy Cohen (Riverdale/Kingsbridge Heights) seem to have been relegated to less prestigous committees. Gibson goes from chairing the high-profile Committee on Public Safety to chairing a five-member subcommittee on capital projects. Cohen will chair the Committee on State and Federal Legislation which historically only generates home rule bills and resolutions regarding state and federal legislation.

On the other hand, the Committee on Juvenile Justice will be chaired by Andy King (D-Baychester/Co-op City). King’s appointment as a committee chair surprised some political observers since the council’s ethics committee began an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct filed against him by an ex-staffer. The investigagtion was launched on December 15, 2017.

The Committee on For-Hire Vehicles will be chaired by freshman Council Member Ruben Diaz, Sr. Freshman Councilwoman Diana Ayala (East Harlem/Port Morris) will head the Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities and Addiction. Also, council newcomer Mark Gjonaj (D-Morris Park//city Island) was assigned to lead the Committee on Small Business.

Find the full list of Committee chairs and memberships here.

Serrano Assails Trump Administration For Withholding Emergency Aid to Puerto Rico

Congressman Jose Serrano assailed the Trump Administration’s decision to block funding that has been approved by Congress to help Puerto Rico as “a new low.” “Puerto Rico is not only facing a cash shortage, it is going through a long term financial crisis that has only complicated since Hurricane Maria. It has received inadequate help from the federal government for its recovery to date and now the Trump Administration has decided it also wants to put further obstacles in the way,” said Congressman Serrano.

Serrano called the move “cruel and vicious.” He called the aid a lifeline to the commonwealth’s government in helping to keep the government’s doors open. “I urge the Treasury Department and FEMA to rescind this decision immediately,” said Serrano in a statement released on Thursday.

Assembly Passes Bill to Ensure Propane Deliveries During Emergencies

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced that the Assembly has passed legislation to ensure that New Yorkers who use propane heat and lease a propane tank from their supplier are able refill propane tanks during times of emergency.

“No one should ever have to worry about being without heat during these cold winter months,” said Speaker Heastie.

Where In The World Is Michael Blake

On Thursday evening, Assemblyman Michael Blake emailed supporters asking them to tune in for his live cable TV interview on Fox News’ “The Story with Martha MacCallum.” The interview aired at 7:00 pm last night. See the video here.

Crowley Praises Cuomo Budget Proposal

Earlier this week, Congressman Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued a statement supporting Governor Cuomo’s budget proposal:

“I welcome Governor Cuomo’s full-throated offensive against this Republican attack on our state. His commonsense plan to seek out reforms for state revenues will help ensure that New York can keep its promise to her citizens and that our state will continue to be a leader in business, education, and innovation.”

“And, at a time when Republicans and President Trump are advancing a divisive agenda attempted to divide us, the ‘Tax Fairness for All’ campaign is just the kind of leadership we need. We have a great responsibility to fight for everyday Americans, and Governor Cuomo’s budget does just that.”

Borough President Diaz’s 2018 State of the Borough Address Set

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.’s 2018 State of the Borough Address will occur on Thursday, February 22, 2018, at The Bronx High School of Science, 75 West 205th Street. Doors open at 10:30 AM, program begins promptly at 11:30 AM. Interested persons are asked to RSVP here.

U.S. District Court Dismisses Libertarian Challenge of NYS Gun Laws

The federal district court in Buffalo upheld New York’s licensing laws as constitutional, promote public safety and prevent gun violence by helping to ensure that “only law-abiding, responsible citizens” are allowed to possess handguns lawfully.

In a statement Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said:
“This decision is a victory for sensible gun laws and New York’s fundamental responsibility to protect our communities. Common sense guidelines that ensure guns don’t fall into the wrong hands are critical to our public safety. We’re glad the court agreed.”

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