Weiner, Addabbo hold town hall on federal stimulus cash

U.S. Rep Anthony Weiner (l.) discusses the federal stimulus package with constituents in Richmond Hill as state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (r.) looks on. Photo by Howard Koplowitz
By Howard Koplowitz

Constituents of U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D−Forest Hills) and state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D−Howard Beach) said they would like to see the B56 bus and the Jamaica Bay wastewater treatment plant receive federal stimulus money during a Town Hall meeting the legislators held at a Richmond Hill school last week.

Weiner said the federal government is “trying to reverse a swirling of the economy in a downward direction” through the stimulus.

“We have real structural problems in our economy that we’re trying to deal with in Washington,” he said.

The congressman said the package does three things: gives money back to states to help with their budgets, funds infrastructure investments to create jobs and gives tax cuts to the bottom 95 percent of the country’s earners.

“We also wanted to make sure that every single middle−class resident of Queens had something for them in this bill,” Weiner said, noting that the tax cuts do not apply to anyone making over $190,000.

“I have two things to say to you if you’re making over $190,000: One, congratulations. Two, there’s no tax cuts here for you,” he said.

One resident asked if stimulus funds could be steered toward public transportation to keep the B56 bus, which runs along Jamaica Avenue and is an alternative to the J train. He said the elevated J train also serves Jamaica, but it is taxing on seniors to use because they would have to go up two flights of stairs to access the train.

Weiner said the stimulus cannot be used on the bus because the Metropolitan Transportation Authority can only apply the funds to new construction.

Addabbo said the issue “will have to be addressed in Albany” and criticized the agency for what he contended was sloppy financial record−keeping.

“I don’t believe the MTA is good in accounting or math,” Addabbo said, noting he wants to see the B56 stay on Jamaica Avenue.

“Those with disabilities are at a real disadvantage,” he said, referring to those who use the B56 because it is difficult to access the J train.

Maria Thomson, president of the 102nd Precinct Community Council and the Greater Woodhaven Development Corp., said the J line also needs a paint job.

“We’ve had that on the top of our list for years,” she said.

Community Board member David Quintana suggested stimulus funds be used to upgrade the Jamaica Bay wastewater treatment plant.

Weiner said the plant is eligible for stimulus money and asked Gov. David Paterson to put it on a list of projects to fund.

“We do have to fix these wastewater treatment plants,” he said.

Resident Michael Buckner suggested stimulus funds be used to start a program where senior citizens help train youth to become plumbers, electricians and other blue−collar professionals.

Addabbo said $63 million from the stimulus is earmarked for job training, but it has yet to be decided how the money will be allocated.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e−mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 173.

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