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Town Hall Touts Speaker – QNS.com

Town Hall Touts Speaker

City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, intent on dominating Queens in the looming Democratic mayoral primary, joined several Queens councilmembers Monday night at a Town Hall meeting organized by the Queens Jewish Community Council (QJCC) at the Young Israel of Jamaica Estates.
Miller — backed by the county’s Democratic organization — joined John Liu, Leroy Comrie, Melinda Katz, Eric Gioia, David Weprin, and James Gennaro at the public forum, aimed at giving Queens residents a chance to vent to their public officials.
Introduced by Gennaro as “a man who listens and acts with compassion and force,” Miller reiterated his desire to strengthen the city’s school system as well as the secular schools that many children in the city attend.
“We need to focus on schools; the overcrowding issues that are a big problem here in Queens, and the lack of supplies and teachers, but also take responsibility for the children outside the public school system,” said Miller. “We need to make nurses available for parochial schools, yeshivas and other secular institutions, as well as provide funding for computers and software.”
As mayor, Miller promised to ensure that zoning patterns match communities and avoid sacrificing the character of neighborhoods for the sake of development. Miller expressed disdain for the performance and role of the Department of Buildings in the city and said he was hopeful that he could rejuvenate the department.
The Speaker pointed out that the city’s budget can handle the costs of hiring more police officers and that more patrol units need to be assigned to Queens.
“The budget is out of control for overtime pay for cops,” said Miller. “It would be more economical for the city to hire more police officers than continue paying time-and-a-half as well as additional pension costs.”
Liu, the Transportation Committee chair, continued his attack on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s bus takeover plans, saying, “The mayor has taken us through a series of fiascos with the takeover of private bus lines. The city is down to half as many running buses as we had a few years back and riders are forced to wait twice as long for service.”
The council is a long-time supporter of the QJCC, recently awarding $500,000 to the organization and their programs.
“Each councilman has had an open door for the QJCC,” said Jan Fenster, QJCC president. “We could not do the work we do without them.”
Miller began the meeting with a moment of silence for Bernice Spitzer, a former council staffer and long-time QJCC volunteer.
melissa@queenscourier.com

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