By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The new power sharing coalition in the state senate composed of renegade Democrats and establishment Republicans has announced its first major project. Independent Democratic Conference Leader Senator Jeffrey Klein and Republican Conference Leader Senator Dean Skelos jointly announced the formation of a bipartisan task force on Hurricane Sandy relief.
Two local legislators, state Sen. Marty Golden (R-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn) and state Sen. Diane Savino (D-Bay Ridge-Bensonhurst-Staten Island), have been tapped to serve on the task force.
The task force will be charged with making sure federal and state relief funds are properly spent. Its members will also develop short-term and long-term strategies to help hurricane-ravaged communities recover, Skelos and Klein said.
State Sen. Senator Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island) and state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Queens) will serve as co-chairmen of the bipartisan task force.
The task force will tour areas that were hit hard by the Oct. 29 super-storm and will hold hearings across the New York metropolitan region.
“The devastation from Hurricane Sandy has resulted in unprecedented challenges for communities throughout the New York City metropolitan region and Long Island,” Skelos said. “The bipartisan senate task force we are announcing today brings together senators from both sides of the aisle who represent the hardest hit areas of New York to provide critical input to recovery efforts and to develop short and long term solutions to rebuild these communities.”
The Bipartisan Senate Task Force for Hurricane Sandy Recovery has three major goals: identify areas most in need of recovery assistance; review rebuilding and storm planning policies to remove roadblocks and ensure better storm-preparedness; and develop legislative solutions that will implement the forthcoming recommendations made by the New York 2100 Commission, the New York State Respond Commission and the NYS Ready Commission, which were all established by Governor Cuomo in November.
"I would like to thank senators Klein and Skleos for their leadership in creating the State Senate Task Force on Hurricane Sandy. I look forward to working with my fellow committee members to ensure that the people of Staten Island and Brooklyn can recover from this storm as quickly as possible,” Savino said.
"Working together with my colleagues in the State Senate, we will begin the important work to review and analyze the city, state and federal response to Super Storm Sandy at a number of levels. We must evaluate the response from the perspective of housing, utility service restoration, mobilization of resources, flood zone designations and more,” Golden said.
“This committee's work will better prepare the hardest hit parts of my district including Gerritsen Beach, Sheepshead Bay and Manhattan Beach, in the event of such a storm in the future. New Yorkers both need and deserve this effort,” Golden added.