Thursday, July 22, 2010

Security, Stink Trains, Budget Reform at CB5

By Tamara Best

The July meeting of the Community Board 5 focused on concerns over keeping the city safe, garbage trains continue to emit foulodors and the budget crisis in Albany.

Securing NYC

Special Agent James Capozzi, of the FBI spoke about a program aimed at strengthening national security through intelligence sharing and training.

Since 1996, the FBI has implemented Infra-Guard, a program whose sole goal is to protect the nation from another terrorist attack like 9/11.

“It was god awful and it can’t happen again,” Capozzi said. “We don’t know where they’re going to next,” he said. “Maybe New York, maybe not, but we’re a high priority target.”

Capozzi said the thorough information sharing and help from the public is crucial to protecting critical infrastructure such as food, banking, finance and transportation systems among others. “In essence things that can ruin the economy or government,” he said.

“We need to make these partnerships ahead of time,” he said. “We can’t protect what we don’t own.”

The program currently has 37,000 members across the country with free membership and weekly web broadcast in addition to local training events. “You help us connect the dots, you never know what you’re going to tell us,” he said.

Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, raised concerns that law enforcement does not respond fast enough when called about suspicious behavior.

“[Calling] 911 isn’t working,” he said, adding that the program should consider implementing a hotline or make a suggestion that they city establish one.

Businesses interested in getting involved have to complete a membership application which includes a records check by the FBI. For more information contact to get involved Infra- Guard at

Stink Train Battle Wages On

During the open forum, Mary Parisen, co-chair of Civics United for Railroad Environmental Solutions, and several elected officials expressed frustration over recent legislation regarding garbage trains being derailed.

“Our elected officials have stood with us to remediate the problems our community has had,” Parisen said, adding that the organization is receiving help on the city and state level from legislators to combat the issue. “We ask everyone to support us on this.”

During a Senate session at the end of June, Addabbo spoke on behalf of citizens living with the impacts of the trains. The legislation would create a set of standards for how solid waste containers have to be covered.

Some senators opposed the legislation, arguing that the trains already have sufficient covering. However, Addabbo, who attended the meeting, said that he will work with other elected officials until some legislation is passed.

“I’d love to get some of the senators who voted no come down here and smell that,” he said.

Haley Myers from the office of Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) said her boss is committed to helping the residents impacted by the trains. “We now know exactly what we’re dealing with now and will push the legislation,” she said.

Budget reform

In addition to the garbage trains, Addabbo expressed frustration over the budget, saying that this year’s process highlights the need for reform.

Under his plan for budget reform, the governor would not be able to pass the budget through extenders, which are sections of the budget presented for a vote one at a time. With extenders, the Senate is given the option to vote either yes or no, with no room for discussion on desired changes.

“We’re basically passing the governor’s budget,” Addabbo said of the current budget deadlock in Albany.

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