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Safe Child ID Continues in 2012

Principal Anna Efkarpides (center) and Computer Room Teacher Barbara Pollock (right) and I welcome the NYPD Community Affairs team at Woodside’s P.S. 11 where several hundred youngsters were processed for Child ID cards during their visit.

My Operation Safe Child program got underway this fall and will continue in January as the NYPD’s Child ID team visits additional schools and libraries in the 30th Assembly District.

The program, which is presented in cooperation with the NYC Police Community Affairs and the NY State Division of Criminal Justice Services, uses digital technology and high resolution photography to create a Safe Child ID Card.

The card, which is made in less than two minutes, may be easily placed in a wallet or pocketbook. It contains a child’s name, biographical information such as date of birth, height, weight, hair color, and a fingerprint image of both index fingers.

The NYPD team visited P.S. 11 and the Woodside Library as well as the Maspeth Library to conduct the program. Additional scheduled visits to Maspeth’s P.S. 153, Woodside’s P.S. 229, the Broadway Library and Our World Charter School in Astoria, and St. Stanislaus and St. Adalbert’s Schools will now take place after the beginning of the year.

Free Flu Shots for the Community

A medical team from Elmhurst Hospital was back at my District Office for our annual free Flu Shot Day for the community in October. Here, the Elmhurst staff prepares to administer shots to local residents as Dario Centorcelli, the hospital’s Associate Executive Director, and I look on.

Anti-Graffiti is Target for New Police Leader in 104th Precinct

Using the paint I helped bring to the 104th Precinct’s Anti-Graffiti Initiative, Officer Justin Dambinskas demonstrates his technique at a major clean-up project he is directing to wipe out graffiti on the walls of the Step Street between 65th Place and 64th Street, parallel to 53rd Avenue, near Ridgewood Gardens.
The 104th Precinct has a new leader and he has become a familiar presence at many civic and community meetings where he talks about the new vigor he is bringing to the Maspeth-Middle Village police command.

I was pleased to meet with Captain Cody recently to discuss current crime-fighting and quality of life issues in the local precinct.

On the priority list of his current concerns is a significant increase in identity theft crimes. He also said there has been a recent increase in car thefts in the precinct, with 2005-2007 Toyota, Acura and Honda being the most targeted. Car robberies, where people leave property on view in their locked cars is another frequent
crime, he said.

Quality of life concerns are also a priority for him. He has reinvigorated the precinct’s anti-graffiti initiative. After the meeting, I was pleased to work with the Borough President’s office to make hundreds of gallons of paint available for the 104th Anti-Graffiti Initiative.

Tourism Means Jobs, Economic Growth for NY City and State

Open New Raceway Casino: It was all smiles as local and state officials came together to cut the ribbon at the new racino-video casino at Aqueduct Raceway this fall. The new Resort World Casino immediately brings 1,350 new jobs to Queens with more to come. Plus the casino also provides millions of dollars every month to the state of New York for education. Now we can keep tourist dollars now being spent in other states here in Queens.

Public Hearing on Tourism’s Economic Impact: Among those testifying at my Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sport Development Committee in November were the leaders of state agencies as well as key city, regional and state-wide organizations, including the Empire State Development Corporation, State Parks & Recreation Department, NY State Council on the Arts, NYC & Co., NY State Hospitality and Tourism Association, Queens Economic Development Corporation, Museum Association of New York, Preservation League of NY, Audubon New York, and Alliance for NY State Parks.
As the new Chair of the Assembly Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development Committee, I am making job creation and economic development my highest priority.

New York offers a diversity of world class cultural, historical, natural and recreational resources. The tourism sector supported over 350,000 jobs in 2009 and we believe that support, preservation and successful marketing of these attractions has the potential to sustain these jobs and create new ones to boost our State’s economy.

Over the past few months I have been meeting with local and regional tourism organizations and associations, including New York City and Queens tourist promotion groups.

I also held a public hearing of my committee in November to examine the impact of existing tourism programs and funding and explore the potential for greater efficiency and effectiveness in achieving job growth and economic revitalization.

There were a number of witnesses at the hearing from the boroughs of New York City as well as other parts of the state. We heard that Manhattan is a world of its own when it comes to tourism, but the other boroughs of the city have challenges that are similar to the rest of the state. As the new Chair of the committee, I intend to work hard to ensure that my views will be representative of the entire state.

In this time of economic instability, I believe that the jobs created and sustained by the tourism industry, as well as its economic impact are worth celebrating. I also believe that through innovation and collaboration, the creation of more jobs and greater economic impact are possible.

Welcome New Woodside On The Move Executive Director
I was pleased to welcome Adrian Bordoni, to his new post as Executive Director of Woodside on the Move, the service organization that has provided youth, housing, business and cultural programs to the community since 1976.
Identify Sex Offenders in Your Neighborhood
With heightened concerns about child safety, parents can be proactive by learning about convicted sex offenders who live in their neighborhood by using the New York State Sex Offender Registry.

The New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services’ Registry was enhanced with the passage of Megan’s Law in 1996 which now requires a sex offender convicted of a designated sex offense to be listed. The residences of Level 2 and 3 offenders may be identified by searching the Registry by name, county or zip code. Access the information by going to

New Sports Scandals Offer “Teachable Moment” for Us About the Continuing Child Sexual Abuse Crisis

Details continue to unfold about the shocking scandals over allegations of child sexual abuse and cover-up at Penn State University and at Syracuse University here in New York.

It seems to me that this may be one of those “teachable moments” where there is something important to learn about the scourge of this type of crime in the broader world where terrible incidents like this don’t usually get the same headlines.

Shocking as the details of the Penn State case are, the rape and sexual abuse of children is sadly a national epidemic that is all too familiar to those who work with issues affecting the welfare of boys and girls. The statistics about this national plague are startling:

With these statistics firmly in mind, there are several parallels between what we are seeing played out in the wake of the devastating revelations from Syracuse and PSU that apply to other instances that have not received such widespread attention. Here are five lessons we can draw from the headlines we are reading today.

“Laws in New York are so lax that many perpetrators evade exposure by waiting out the short statute of limitations and may continue to abuse yet more children in the future. I want to change that.”
- Assemblywoman Margaret Markey

People who abuse kids have a power relationship with their victims. They are often family members, family friends or relatives; but sometimes they are also coaches, religious leaders, doctors, and youth workers. The one thing all abusers have in common is that they hold a position of influence and trust in the life of a child and use their power to violate that trust.

When cases of abuse arise, there is a tendency for leaders of an organization to act to protect their institution first. What happened at Syracuse and Penn State is no different than the practices we have seen repeatedly exposed over the past decade in the Catholic Church and other religious denominations; in scouting and other youth organizations; or even within families. When officers and leaders of a school, university, church or youth group fail to report credible allegations of these crimes, the real damage they do is to the children who are the victims.

When an institution fails to report an incident of abuse to law enforcement, the pedophile not only avoids punishment for a crime, but is free to continue to prey on yet other youngsters. Experts say the average pedophile has more than 100 victims in a lifetime. As we saw in the Penn State case, a grand jury specifically identified eight victims, but since the case broke into the headlines, another 20 potential victims of this one coach have contacted law enforcement and more are expected to speak up.

Victims often need a long time to come forward to talk about what happened to them and most never do. Many aren’t able to understand or report their abuse before they are well into adulthood. Mental health experts say only ten percent of those abused ever come forward. That means most perpetrators — and those who helped hide them — are never publicly exposed. We need to do more through legislation and educational programs to make parents and the public aware of the signs of child sexual abuse in order to enable victims to come forward in order to identify and prosecute criminal abusers.

Laws about reporting abuse vary from state to state, and so do criminal and civil statutes of limitations on these crimes. Some of them, as is the case here in New York, are so unreasonably short that perpetrators evade exposure because they can simply wait out the statute of limitations – and they may continue to abuse more children. New York laws are so lax that victims have had to go to other states to get justice for the crimes against them. A victim of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of a coach from a parochial high school in Queens had to go to Boston to get justice. Eight victims of a priest from the Albany RC Diocese earlier this year had to take their case to Berkshire County, MA, to see their abuser sentenced to jail.

My Child Victims Act (A5488) will extend the existing statute of limitations in New York State. It will also create a civil “window” that will completely suspend the statute for one year in New York, helping expose those who are guilty of earlier crimes. This “window” will make it possible to identify previously-hidden abusers through the discovery process in court and expose them ensuring that they can never abuse a child again.

In considering the lessons we can draw from these sports world scandals we should not overlook the focus and tone of what we are reading. In reviewing the coverage about the case, there is a lot of discussion about the impact of the allegations on collegiate sports and the reputation of the schools involved. Politicians are shocked; law enforcement officials are troubled; and community leaders are sad. But the word I see missing from most accounts is “rage.”

When the extent of child sexual abuse in our society first came to my attention eight years go, “rage” is what I felt – and I still do every time I hear about yet another incident of rape or a sexual crime against a child.

For this latest child sexual abuse scandal to be a truly “teachable moment” I think it is important for all of us to express a lot of rage and then we all need to do something about it. What I am doing is trying to make the Child Victims Act of New York become state law.

Dedicated Safety Guard

The safety of our children is ensured by dedicated crossing guards who make sure they are able to get to school safely. I was pleased to honor Anna M. Abbruzzese who has recently completed 20 years of dedicated service as a crossing guard at P.S. 153.

Assemblywoman Margaret Markey’s Survey Results Revealed...

When I recently asked you to share your views with me about important issues in the coming year, I was pleased that hundreds of residents of the 30th District took the opportunity to express their opinions.

Working together in 2011, the Legislature and the Governor made significant progress in facing up to a huge budget deficit, making state agencies more efficient and putting New York State on the right track for the coming years.

The views you expressed will enable me to better represent you as we come to grips with the considerable challenges of the New Year.

Following is a report about your collective views on some of the important issues we will address in 2012:

QUESTION: How about a dedicated 1-cent charge on bags to benefit parks?
One proposal for paying for creation and maintenance of parks in New York City and State is to create a one-penny charge for the use of throw-away plastic bags in retail stores. The plan would also reduce the environmental impact of these bags. Yes, this is a good way to provide funding for parks. No? Unsure?

YOUR VIEW: More than half of you thought it was a good idea to charge a penny for every throw-away plastic bag we consumed — a good way to provide money for parks and improve the environment. Some, however, expressed concern that the money would not go to the stated purpose.

QUESTION: Greater control over management of the MTA?
Management and funding problems continue to plague the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Do you think New York State should exercise greater control over the MTA?

YOUR VIEW: After fare increases, capital funding problems and too-frequent management changes, there was a strong view that there should be greater state oversight of this public corporation that manages the city and suburban bus and transit operations as well as bridges and tunnels in the metropolitan region.

QUESTION: East River bridge tolls for transit improvements?
How do you feel about the major increases in tolls on Port Authority bridges and tunnels? Tolls should be rolled back. Bridge and tunnel tolls should be used only to maintain the facilities where they are collected. YOUR VIEW: Opinion was divided in an interesting way on this question. Nearly half thought the recent toll increases on the Hudson River crossings and other Port Authority facilities should be rolled back, but somewhat more said that all tolls should be allocated for maintenance and improvements at the facilities where they are collected.
QUESTION: Restore member item funding for local community organizations?
Member item funding, which has helped support worthy community-based senior and social service organizations in the 30th Assembly District, has not been available in recent years. Should member item funding be restored to aid these worthy local organizations?

YOUR VIEW: Community organizations and non-profits who provide youth, health, senior and other social services programs should get extra funding that has been missing from their budgets over recent years, said an overwhelming number of you. Nearly two-thirds of survey responses said that member items should be restored to aid worthy local organizations.

QUESTION: What are the most important problems facing New York State and our local communities in the coming year?

YOUR VIEW – STATE: On the state level, the largest portion of your replies related to the economy, expressed variously as the need for more and better jobs, reducing unemployment, coping with a rising cost of living and helping create funding for vital state programs. Another frequently mentioned statewide issue included protection of our water supply.

YOUR VIEW – LOCAL: A great number of you also indicated that unemployment, the cost of living and the need for jobs were the most important problems facing our local communities. These other issues were also frequently cited as important: community quality of life; graffiti; high cost of mass transit and housing; the adverse impact of rail lines; overcrowding in schools; and college tuition increases.

DISTRICT OFFICE: 55-19 69th Street • Maspeth, New York 11378 • 718-651-3185
ALBANY OFFICE: Room 712 Legislative Office Building • Albany, New York 12248 • 518-455-4755