2011-04-06 / Front Page

A Year And Counting

One year ago today, we were headed to the polls in what ended up being a historic election. 
Being elected to serve in the New York state senate has been one of the greatest opportunities of my life. Immediately after being sworn in, my office got right to work.
At this one year mark, I wanted to take a moment and highlight some of our accomplishments and provide an outlook for the next several months.
Our constituent services department has helped more than 1,300 constituents.  We have helped with issues ranging from immigration and foreclosure, to consumer affairs and tenant advocacy. This was supplemented with a grant I secured for Emerald Isle Center, an immigration resource center.
I also secured a grant of $250,000 for the DOE Fund to benefit Jackson Heights, LeFrak City, Corona, Elmhurst, and East Elmhurst. The DOE Fund assists in garbage removal and in keeping our sidewalks clear and neighborhoods clean.
Alongside Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, we hosted various forums on topics related to domestic violence, gang violence, and shaken-baby syndrome. Coming from these forums, I directed a grant to Safe Horizons, a community group dedicated to assisting victims of domestic violence. Domestic violence has been a major issue in our community and we’ve dealt with it directly. 
To promote our vibrant public library system, I helped secure a grant for $50,000 for the Queens Public Library. I also hosted a great annual book fair  which brought together authors and readers.  This year I will continue promoting readership among our students and adults.  
As chair of the Consumer Protection Committee, I strongly supported President [Barack] Obama’s appointment of Dr. Elizabeth Warren to serve as special advisor of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Dr. Warren was the right selection and will play an instrumental role in protecting the rights of consumers.
I also called for the parties of the Fox–Cablevision dispute to agree to arbitration.   We can now enjoy American Idol.
In an effort to protect the right to know how your food is being prepared and served, I supported a measure requiring vendors of all sizes including ballparks, street carts and restaurants, to publicly post the results of their most recent health inspection.  
During the summer, our Movies Under The Stars program featured three movies and provided great, outdoor family entertainment.
Prior to the primary in September, I helped unveil the new voting machines. We must always remember to participate in the democratic process by voting.
We also advocated and supported raising funds for the victims of the Pakistani floods, providing vital information about Alzheimer’s Disease, disclosing the dental effects of baby bottles and sippy cups, not forgetting about pest control, and supporting local businesses.
 There were also several fun and important events in the district that we participated in, including a new exhibit at Jain Center, the closing ceremony of the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the passage of the U.S. soccer program, a commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act, the Elmcor New York Knicks clinic, a community blood drive, and the Queens Pride Parade.
I joined Mayor Michael Bloomberg in the announcement of 1,500 new pedestrian safety countdown signals.
Over the holidays, we gave out more than 350 turkeys for Thanksgiving and our annual Holiday Party in December brought together hundreds of members of our community and collected more than 150 toys for needy children.
In Albany, we sponsored seven laws, including the required disclosure of bedbug infestation by landlords and the mandate that consumers receive adequate disclosure of rebates being offered, fees that might apply, and the remittance of the rebate.
I would highlight one important bill that was passed by the legislature, but vetoed by the governor, and that’s a  bill requiring mortgage lenders and brokers to provide consumers with a pamphlet explaining their rights in the lending process. This is an important measure to ensure that homeowners are protected from predatory lenders. I have reintroduced the bill again this year and hope my colleagues will join me in passing it again.
 At the beginning of this session I was selected by Minority Leader John Sampson to serve as the Democratic Conference Whip and Ranking Democratic Member of the Standing Committee on Labor. These positions enable me to help the millions of working men and women of New York.
I have been active in the state budget debate opposing the property tax cap that  would hurt our education system.
 Just this past month we celebrated  and had a reception honoring local leaders. 
Our community was very responsive to help with dental health.
We continue to support expanded educational opportunities including a charter school for English Language Learners (ELL). 
Over the coming months, we will be hosting events and addressing issues related to housing, animal welfare, youth smoking prevention, banking, gun control, and the revitalization of Roosevelt Avenue.
There is much work to do as we come out of the economic recession and I look forward to continuing to work on those and other important issues in Albany and in the 13th Senatorial District.
Senator Jose R. Peralta

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