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Candidates For Vital City Offices Court Area Voters

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Gearing up for the September 2005 Democratic primaries, many politicians punched in at the Citizens for a Better Community’s fifth annual membership meeting at St. Vincent Ferrer Church, Glenwood Road and East 37th Street. Politicians included City Councilmember Kendall Stewart and State Senators Kevin S. Parker, Carl Andrews and John L. Sampson, who is vying for Brooklyn District Attorney. Manhattan Borough President and mayoral candidate Virginia Fields, who has 16 years in elected office and marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., crossed the East River to be at the meeting. “For the most part, we want the same things,” Fields said — affordable housing, good schools, access to health care for all and more jobs. To achieve this she would create a Deputy Mayor for Employment and Business. “We need a mayor who is going to focus on the needs of our daily lives and use the tax dollars to meet those needs,” Fields said. City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, hot on his mayoral campaign, said he wants smaller class sizes, more qualified teachers, safer schools and better after-school programs. Miller has a proposal – paid for by freezing tax rebates — to restrict class sizes from Kindergarten through 3rd grade to 17 children in a class, 4th and 5th grades to 20, and 6th grade and up to 22. He also wants greater protection for jobs – through tax relief for small businesses — protection of quality of life, and wants New York City to stop sending $24 billion a year to Washington. “We need to move beyond excuses and toward results,” Miller said. Andrews said that cutting unemployment is a priority. He described a new state employment office that will provide information on state, city, federal and private jobs. “We want you to take advantage of this opportunity,” Andrews said. Stewart stressed the importance of quality-of-life issues, including the problem for immigrants who pay immigration agencies but don’t receive services. Stewart also said that he was involved in securing $5 million new funds for a cancer center at Kings County Hospital. Sampson gave up his spot on the podium to Borough President Marty Markowitz, who told a joke about a bear eating an atheist. But despite the attention from all the heavy hitters, Yvette Barrow, Concerned Citizens president, said that not all the needs of the community are being met. Plans to hold a family day at Paerdegat Park August 6 could be in jeopardy because the city requires $3 million insurance and a sponsor to fix a gate at Farragut Road and Albany Avenue, she said. “In order for us to make this a better place and in order for us to keep this family alive, we have these community events,” said Barrow. “But it is so hard because there has to be this fighting with City Hall and fighting the Parks Department. We are fighting to have a small family day.” Barrow also said that during winter storms, residents have to sweep the water off the streets on East 40th Street between Farragut and Glenwood Roads, because of poor road conditions. “I had to beg and I had to threaten,” she said, to get something done. The Department of Transportation visited the site in November 2003. “They said the streets needed grinding,” she said. “They thought that was a solution to the problem, no, no, no. Guess what? When it rains or when it snows they have to come back out and they have to sweep again.” The DOT came out again in May 2005 and said that the street needs to be repaved, Barrow said. “This is a beautiful neighborhood and if you live here it is beautiful people — they really care,” she said. “But somehow we have got to get solutions – it’s a begging game.” “Help us, vote for the right people, who make not feasible, feasible,” Barrow said. Inspector Robert Boyce of the 67th Precinct told the audience that crime had fallen by 70 percent over the last 10 years, but that now it reached a plateau. “Each year it gets a little harder to cut crime,” he said. But Boyce said that precinct cops had arrested a group of alleged gang members at a local housing complex, who preyed on victims at bus stops coming from the subway late at night. Local resident Renwick Metivier said he was attacked at 2 a.m. on New York Avenue by three youths. The first who approached him did not have a weapon. But the mugger had two accomplices on the other side of the road. Metivier gave up his money, he said. Boyce said Metivier did the right thing. “Your wallet is not worth your life,.” he said. An arrest had been made in connection with these robberies, Boyce said. Boyce also said that a man was arrested in connection with a recent spate of crimes where car owners find their cars on blocks with their prize rims – and wheels — missing. The suspect, described as a professional wheel thief, was caught with cinder blocks and a jack in a van. “It’s like you see at NASCAR,” Boyce said. “That’s how fast they can strip the wheels.” Boyce warned that any flashy car is vulnerable to theft. “If you do have an expensive car,” Boyce said, “I strongly suggest you park it off-street.” Lt. Joseph M. Thomas of the New York City Fire Department handed out a few safety tips including the importance of having smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. He also warned that bars on windows could prevent a family from escaping in an emergency. Community, church and school leaders interested in arranging a fire safety presentation can call (718) 999-2343.

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