2009-07-17 / Top Stories

Failing Environmental Grades For Councilmen

By Howard Schwach

Councilman Sanders Jr. Councilman Sanders Jr. The two City Councilmen who represent Rockaway have received failing grades from the largest environmental group in the state, a spokesperson from that group revealed recently.

"Most of the elected officials say that they are for the environment, but who is making sure they say what they do," asks Marcia Bystryn, the president of the New York League of Conservation Voters. "The scorecard offers a clear view of where members of the New York City Council stand on the most important environmental issues facing our city."

James Sanders Jr., who represents the eastern end of the peninsula, got a grade of 57 out of 100, while Eric Ulrich, who recently won a special election to represent the western end of the peninsula, scored a dismal 17, the worst in the Queens delegation and tied with several other council members for the worst in the city.

The city average grade, according to the organization, was a solid 71.

The organization rated council members based on how they voted on several pieces of "critical legislation," including energy efficiency, upgrading lighting, energy audits and congestion pricing.

Councilman Ulrich Councilman Ulrich Several other, less critical votes were rated as well.

While Ulrich is new to the Council, the organization's website shows that he was present for a great majority of the environmental votes, and voted most often against the environment, the website says.

Ulrich, however, believes that the report "puts [him] in a false light."

I was disappointed with the grade of 17," he told The Wave on Tuesday. "I voted for all but one of the environmental bills, and I even sponsored the Greenfield's legislation."

Ulrich says that the point system worked against him because they gave points to those who sponsored legislation that has not yet come up for a vote, and he has yet to make a determination on whether or not to co-sponsor those bills.

Two councilmen, Eric Gioia and Thomas White, got ratings of 100.

Melinda Katz was the most improved legislator, moving to a rating of 83, compared with her 2006 score of 11. A Sanders aide was contacted for comment on the conservationists' report, but did not return our telephone calls by deadline.

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