By Howard Koplowitz
Behind the backdrop of a Ridgewood park, City Councilman Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) and state Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) called on state legislators Friday to pass a bill for parents to receive e-mail updates when registered sex offenders move into their neighborhood.
Sex offender information is already available on the state Criminal Justice Services Division Web site, but the two lawmakers said e-mailing it would be more convenient.
"In today's fast-paced life, parents barely have time to pack a juice box," said Addabbo, who is challenging state Sen. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale) for his Senate seat. "We need this information to get to our parents."
Addabbo said the lion's share — 35 percent — of Queens' most dangerous sex offenders, known as Level 2 and Level 3 offenders, live in the 15th Senate District, which covers Ridgewood, Maspeth, Glendale, Middle Village, Woodhaven, Richmond Hill, Howard Beach, Ozone Park and South Ozone Park.
"That number in Queens has increased," the councilman said. "That number in Senate District 15 has increased. Why wouldn't you as a parent want that information?"
The lawmakers spoke in front of Joseph Mafera Park in Ridgewood, located in a zip code – 11385 – with the second-highest amount of registered sex offenders and the largest ratio of sex offenders to schools, according to Addabbo campaign spokeswoman Alexis Grenell.
Lancman is the sponsor of the Assembly bill to create the e-mail alerts and pushed his colleagues to pass it when they returned to Albany for a special session Tuesday, but it did not come to a vote.
"The technology is available," Lancman said. "The information is available. We can do this at no cost to the taxpayers of the state of New York."
He said the state Homeland Security Department could implement the e-mail system without legislation, but the assemblyman suggested the agency does not have the suggestion at the top of its priorities.
A Senate version of Lancman's bill, sponsored by state Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx), has been kept from coming to the floor of that chamber by Republicans for two years, he said.
While Lancman could not say why Republicans were opposed to the bill, he said, "there are many things that the Republican Senate does that I can't fathom."
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.