2011-08-26 / Top Stories

Turner Draws Ire On Zadroga Act

Doesn’t Think It Should Cover Sick 9/11 Volunteers
By Daniel Solomon

The 9/11 WTC terrorist attack has emerged as something of a political football in the race to succeed Anthony Weiner in Congress. Last week, Republican Bob Turner aired a TV ad attacking Democrat David Weprin’s support for the building of the so-called Ground Zero mosque. Now, the conservative hopeful has waded into the thick of that issue again, telling The Daily News in an endorsement interview that a bill to cover 9/11 first responders and volunteers is “a little too broad.”

That law, known as the Zadroga Act, provides for $1.5 billion to keep track of the health of rescue workers and cleanup crews and pick up the medical expenses of those who became ill because they breathed in toxins. It also allocates $2.78 billion to compensate the families of first responders and volunteers who were killed or injured, as well as remunerate nearby residents and employees who were affected by 9/11. Last year, the legislation passed the Congress overwhelmingly, sponsored by a bi-partisan group that included Representatives Anthony Weiner and Peter King.

Turner’s specific problem with the bill, he says, is that it includes volunteers in the ranks of those who will receive the government’s largesse. “If someone said, ‘I volunteered’ or walked through there, it’s just not the type,” he told The News. “My call,” he added, “would be to protect police, fire, emergency workers, construction workers, etc.”

Reacting to that statement, a source close to Weprin assured The Wave that, “I’m sure he’ll be appalled by that.” Still, the Republican’s stance may encounter the most ire from some in Rockaway, a community that lost 70 people in the attacks, volunteers and World Trade Center workers alike.

One 9/11 activist, John Feal, who was a construction-worker-turned-volunteer after the planes hit, seemed to mirror that sentiment in a statement to the Daily News. “That day, and for months after, there were no uniforms,” Feal said. “For Bob Turner to turn his back on [volunteers], but use images of the burning towers in campaign ads – a circus monkey can out-politic Bob Turner, he’s an embarrassment to the Republican Party.”

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