24 The QUEE NS Courier • MAY 26, 2016 for breaking news visit www.qns.com POLITICS 2016 Grodenchik discusses bridge tolls, grocery bag tax at Chamber meeting By Suzanne Monteverdi firstname.lastname@example.org/@QueensCourier Councilman Barry Grodenchik met with the Queens Chamber of Commerce Legislative Committee on the morning of May 20 and focused on the potential impact of city policies on the “World’s Borough.” For Grodenchik, continuing to welcome and invite businesses to set up shop within Queens is paramount. “The alternative to people not investing is that we end up like Detroit,” Grodenchik said. “We’ve seen the blight — the total ruination — of that city. So we’re lucky that we have a city where people still want to come, still want to invest.” Grodenchik, however, views a recent proposal to install tolls on the free East River crossings (Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queensboro and Williamsburg bridges) as a potential misstep. “I think that would be a disaster for the borough. I think it would be a disaster for the economy,” he said. “And I think one of the things that we have to do — and we work on this every day — is to try and lessen the challenges for people who want to go into business in the city of New York.” Grodenchik also sees the recently passed grocery bag tax as another step in the wrong direction. Though Grodenchik believes the legislation may be built on good intentions, the additional monetary burden on Queens residents and business owners outweighs the positive. Tom Grech, the Chamber’s executive director, agreed: “I think it’s a lose-lose for consumers, as well as for businesses … At the end of the day, that tax is an aggressive tax.” Grodenchik was also eager to make this distinction: the proposed plan is not a tax, but a fee. “They couldn’t call this a tax: it’s technically a fee,” he stressed. “And also — here’s another interesting point — if you buy two bags, it’s not gonna cost you a nickel, it’s going to cost you 11 cents, because a fee is taxable.” Queens Politics & More BY MIKE FRICCHIONE Councilman Barry Grodenchik at center with Queens Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tom Grech ad Chief of Operations Sophia Ganosis. For Grodenchik, the biggest problem is where the money collected under the proposed fee has been allocated. “None of that is gonna pay for anything that the city of New York has to pay for: it’s not paying for cops, firefighters, sanitation workers; it’s not paving a single road; it’s not planting a single tree; it’s not paying for Photo by Suzanne Monteverdi another teacher or paraprofessional, nothing,” Grodenchik said. Despite the recent City Council vote in favor of adopting the plan, Grodenchik remains optimistic. “There is still a chance that the state can override this legislation,” he closed. “That is absolutely a possibility.” The Money Chase in NY-3 Candidates for retiring Congressman Steve Israel’s seat in Congress have posted impressive fundraising hauls as they approach the June 28 primaries. Leading the pack is Suffolk County Legislator Steve Stern, who also happens to have the support of Congressman Israel. Stern raked in a cool half million dollars and has almost $450,000 to play with a month out from the primary. Former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi also has a sizable war chest. The former executive and Glen Cove mayor reported raising over $450,000. Suozzi, who earlier this month came under fire from fellow Democrats for not filing the requisite number of petition signatures to qualify for the primary ballot, was successful in beating back challenges and has largely silenced his critics. Equally impressive was Town of North Hempstead Councilwoman Anna Kaplan, who raised almost $450,000. Kaplan, however, made a $100,000 loan to herself to boost her fundraising totals up to the first tier. Kaplan also recently picked up the endorsement of the national political action committee EMILY’S List, which should give her pocketbook a shot of adrenaline before coming into the home stretch. Former North Hempstead Town Supervisor and Nassau Interim Finance Authority chairman Jon Kaiman is hanging tough as his campaign reported raising almost $250,000. Campaign manager Jeff Guillot, in a statement, said the campaign “will have the resources to compete vigorously.” On the Republican end, Philip “Flip” Pidot of Glen Cove was disqualified from appearing on the ballot after a Board of Elections challenge found that he was 16 valid petition signatures short of the 1,250 minimum needed to run. Pidot had reported raising a little over $100,000 before being knocked off the ballot, which now clears the path for state Senator Jack Martins, who can save the almost $250,000 he has on hand for the November general election. Pidot, in a statement, said his supporters were being unfairly “disenfranchised from the political process.” In response, Martins’ spokesman, E. O’Brien Murray, called Pidot a “failed candidate who did not have enough community support and thought the rules did not apply to him.” Looks like the GOP settled the score quietly, while the Dems look forward to eating their young. However, mess is sometimes a symptom of democracy.
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