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Queens GOP leaders rip gov on education at Boro Hall

By Sarina Trangle

Queens Republicans say they are ready to school New York’s chief educator.

Between chants of “Retract the Safe Act” and “No more Common Core,” about 20 Republicans gathered on the steps of Queens Borough Hall Tuesday to unveil a failing report card for Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The GOP’s “interim performance evaluation” detailed the party’s disagreements with several state policies, from the implementation of national curriculum standards called Common Core to gun control.

A few praised Cuomo’s Republican challenger Robert Astorino, but the rally focused on the current governor’s perceived deficits.

“We are back again today to change the status Cuomo and stop the decline of New York,” said Queens Village Republican Club President Phil Orenstein.

Cuomo’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

Common Core concerns topped the GOP’s mock interim performance evaluation.

John Concannon, a retired police captain who has unsuccessfully challenged City Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) and state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), said Cuomo had not pushed to get enough educators with classroom experience on the state Board of Regents or otherwise placed them at the helm of Common Core implementation.

Rosemary Serra, president of the Nassau County Federation of Republican Women, said New York invested more money per pupil in education than most states, but still had a below average graduation rate.

“Something is wrong here. And we ask ourselves, what is our governor doing?” she said.

Speakers denounced the Safe Act, which bans assault weapons and requires mental health professionals to report clients they believe may be potentially violent to authorities so the clients’ gun licenses can be revoked.

“He, overnight, made felons out of law-abiding citizens here in the city,” Concannon said, emphasizing that he believed Cuomo pushed the legislation through after a gunman killed scores in Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School without proper planning.

The GOP honed in on statistics from the Tax Foundation and the conservative-leaning American Legislative Exchange Counsel, which they said show New York has one of the highest tax burdens in the country. They said this ushered in an exodus of top earners and saddled the middle class with higher tax bills.

“Every other state is saying, ‘Thank God for New York’ … because they’re not in last place. New York is,” Concannon said. “That actually puts a burden on the middle class, the working class.”

But Cuomo’s poorest investment was not making the Rockaway peninsula’s Superstorm Sandy recovery enough of a priority, according to Alan Zwirn.

“Why in the Jersey Shore is the boardwalk up?” said Zwirn, president of the Rockaway Republican Club. “And we’re still three years away.”

Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at strangle@cnglocal.com.

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