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NY Sun: July 26, 2002

McCall Wants Benefits Extended
By MICHAEL NEEDHAM Special to the Sun

Democratic gubernatorial candidate H. Carl McCall joined 50 jobless New Yorkers yesterday to demand that Governor Pataki support a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits. Unemployment benefits are normally available for only 26 weeks, but Congress extended the benefits last March for 13 weeks in an effort to help workers who had lost their jobs around September 11.

More than 100,000 New Yorkers will run out of all of their unemployment benefits without finding jobs, the New York Unemployment Project estimated. Mr. McCall blamed Mr. Pataki for not applying pressure on the State Senate to approve an Assembly-passed bill that would have extended the unemployment benefits.
He told the protesters the state has "an obligation…to provide the employment benefits so that you can take care of your families until you find a job."

Mr. Pataki’s campaign manager, Adam Stoll, said the governor hopes New York’s congressional delegation will get federal legislation passed. "Carl McCall should stop his partisan attacks and work with our bipartisan delegation in Washington to get this done," Mr. Stoll said.

Senator Clinton introduced legislation July 10 aimed at extending federal unemployment benefits a second time.
Most of the protesters did not care whether the federal or state government gave them the unemployment benefits.
"I have a wife and two kids. I desperately want to work, but without this extension I don’t know how my family and I will survive," said Mohammed Fruitwala, who lost his job at Restaurant Associates in the World Financial Center on September 11. "Unemployed workers will not forget that when push came to shove, Governor Pataki chose to shove our families into poverty."

A spokesman for Mr. Pataki, Joe Conway, said the governor is seeking action on the federal level.
Mr. McCall also criticized Mr. Pataki for not having put away more money over the last seven years. Mr. McCall said he told the governor more money should be put into reserves, but Mr. Pataki failed to listen.
"That’s pure, politically partisan nonsense," Mr. Conway said. "The governor…helped the state prepare for difficult times by building up the state’s rainy day reserve funds to the highest levels in state history. As a result, even in the wake of September 11 and the national economic downturn, New York has been able to avoid the thousands of layoffs, massive tax hikes, and huge budget cuts…that most other states in the country are now facing."
Shortly after Mr. McCall left the protest, Victor Severino, who worked at Windows on the World atop the World Trade Center before September 11, tried to deliver 1,000 signed petitions to Mr. Pataki’s New York campaign office. Security guards barred the door.
The protesters grew angry and started screaming outside the doors of the building — making it difficult for employees to get through the doors. In a couple of instances, angry workers shoved protesters out of the way in order to exit the building.
"This makes me very angry. We are not violent, we just want to give these letters to him," Mr. Severino said as protesters yelled "don’t ignore the unemployed" behind him.
After a few minutes, a Pataki campaign staff member came down and took the letters from the protest organizers.

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