2013-08-30 / Top Stories

Sal Albanese Wants Rockaway Vote

By Katie McFadden

Sal Albanese at The Wave. Photo by Rachel Bernstein Sal Albanese at The Wave. Photo by Rachel Bernstein For the second time, mayoral candidate Sal Albanese stopped by The Wave office to share his views in hopes of gaining Rockaway’s support and an endorsement from the paper.

Albanese is the only mayoral candidate to pay The Wave a visit not once, but twice. He stopped by back in late February to share his views on transportation and education. On Wednesday, August 28th, he came by to elaborate on his views and explain further his plans for Rockaway and the city if he were to become the next mayor.

With 11 years of teaching experience, 15 years on the City Council and 15 years working in the legal and financial fields, Albanese says he has the strong background experience that he would incorporate into his role as New York City’s Mayor.

For Rockaway, Albanese says the community needs a long term plan. “I’ve seen problems with the infrastructure, boardwalk, erosion and more. I’d like to develop an overall plan for the Rockaways in conjunction with the community,” he said. “It is a hidden gem and we need a long term game plan for the Rockaways.”

When it comes to Hurricane Sandy, Albanese noted that the city currently has a “reactive government.” He vows to bring a more proactive approach to the government as mayor. “When it comes to Sandy, we didn’t protect the shoreline,” he said. “I want to be a mayor that focuses on the next 100 years. The city should be resilient.” He noted that the Office of Emergency Management lacked coordination when it came to Sandy response. As Mayor, he says that he would appoint someone to the agency who is high profile and would be respected by the police, fire, and other agencies and better evacuation plans would be set in place.

As flood insurance is a major concern for the Rockaways in the wake of FEMA introducing new flood maps. Albanese said it is imperative that City, State, and Federal official coordinate efforts on how homeowners and businesses deal with increasing flood insurance premiums. After hearing from a local business owner that his insurance would increase from $4,000 to $12,000, Albanese said he believes that the federal, state and city governments should cover the costs until resiliency measures such as jetties and sea walls are put in place.

Calling upon the government to pay for premiums is only fair, he said, noting that a study was done in 2004 that predicted a storm such as Sandy, but the government didn’t do anything to prepare. “The City is accountable because of the lack of preparation. They didn’t protect the coastline,” he said. “The city, state and federal governments are to blame due to lack of planning, so they should pay up until resiliency efforts are completed.”

“Flood insurance costs be will be reduced when protection is in place. Until then we should give grants to homeowners,” he said. “Governor Christie in New Jersey gave grants to homeowners for $10,000. These were for homeowners to use for things beside construction. I would like that kind of grant to pay for flood insurance. We’ll subsidize flood insurance payments until protection is put in place,” Albanese said.

Albanese praised Mayor Bloomberg’s recent efforts on resiliency, including the recent SIRR report. Albanese said he would like to keep key people onboard rather than wasting “six months trying to get new people up to speed.”

Another big issue for Rockaway that he acknowledged is transportation, for which Albanese has big plans. “I want to be known as the mass transit mayor,” he said.

Albanese took a ride on the Rockaway Ferry himself in early July and signed a pledge to keep it around. “It’s a great service and I want to make it permanent,” he said.

He not only supports the Rockaway Ferry, but he wants to see more of them around the city.

“Part of my transportation plan includes enhanced ferry service all around the city,” he said. As Mayor, Albanese wants to take over the MTA. “I want to make sure that the City Council and Mayor fund it properly. I don’t know one city around the world that doesn’t have direct control over transit,” he said.

In addition to enhanced ferry service, Albanese says he would add additional bus service to the city and would work to eliminate the toll on the Cross Bay Bridge or at least bring it down to a dollar. He believes that mass transit should be subsidized. “I think transit should be supported by the city, state and federal government,” he said.

As the only candidate who spent 11 years in the classroom as a teacher, Albanese has many ideas about the direction in which education should head.

He strongly believes that kids from newborns to age three should be given more attention. “These are the most important years for kids,” he said. “When I was a teacher, I taught in tough neighborhoods and the kids with the most difficult time came out of a low socioeconomic background.”

He believes that children that don’t get an early start, or those who come from low income communities, often enter the education system behind others.

He wants to merge early childhood education and give children the chance to start early. “If these kids come in way behind, it’s going to be hard for them to catch up.”

He also spoke about setting up privately-funded pediatric wellness centers across the five boroughs, including one in Rockaway. These centers would become publicly supported if successful.

As far as teachers go, Albanese believes student teachers should spend 90 percent of their senior year working in a classroom and wants to ensure that school supervisors are spending 90 percent of the time working with teachers rather than devoting time to bureaucratic tasks. “Teachers need to be better trained,” he said. “Effective teachers make a difference.”

He wants to make sure that teachers aren’t simply basing their curriculums on tests.

He also wants to ensure that children still have access to music, art and physical education programs to relieve the stress of classwork and testing.

Albanese also supports after school activities, summer jobs and summer programs for students to keep them busy and out of trouble.

Albanese also spoke about the hot topic of Stop and Frisk and expressed a different viewpoint than his opponents. “Nobody should be stopped in violation of the constitution, however, that’s against the law. But I think stops are an effective tool to keep guns off the street,” he said. “It’s common sense if a police officer has reasonable suspicion that someone is committing a crime, they should be able to stop them.” Albanese supports stops, but thinks that police officers need proper training to perform them.

He disagrees with the City Council’s decision to put an end to Stop and Frisk and says it should not be ended, but reformed.

He rejected the view of his opponents. “I believe what they’re doing in the last couple of months is outrageous. They’re using cops as a political football. Most cops are doing a good job and they’re underpaid. They’re not Nazis or vigilantes, but all of my opponents say they are.”

“I’m afraid cops won’t stop anybody,” he said about the recent ruling that stops are unconstitutional. “Cops are not going to jeopardize their jobs. They won’t stop anybody. We’re going to have serious crime problems if this continues. Look, a lot of this can be addressed by police officers getting proper training.”

In addition to supporting Stop and Frisk, Albanese believes police should be more connected with their communities. “I’m going to hire 3,800 cops to restore community policing because we lost contact between people and cops,” he said. “We need cops and communities working together to solve problems.”

As far as term limits go, Albanese is the only democratic candidate in support of them. “I’m a believer in term limits. There are too many career politicians in office,” he said. He’s also in support of open, nonpartisan primaries.

According to an August 26th Quinnipiac poll, Sal Albanese is at the bottom of the Democratic primary race, though he sees the race as “fluid” and noted the wide gap between polls and the actual outcome in the Bloomberg-Thompson race four years ago.

Albanese left with a few sweet parting words for Rockaway and The Wave as he’s hoping for support. “I’m in love with Rockaway. This newspaper is fantastic. It’s feisty, just like me, and it would make a major difference to my campaign to have your endorsement.”

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