2011-11-02 / Features

Meng Discusses Community Bds. At Queensboro Hill Civic Meeting

BY ADAM LOMBARDI


Assemblymember Grace Meng addressed her constituents concerning local issues including public intoxication, illegal massage parlors and the lack of English language signs in the Flushing area. 
Photo Adam Lombardi Assemblymember Grace Meng addressed her constituents concerning local issues including public intoxication, illegal massage parlors and the lack of English language signs in the Flushing area. Photo Adam Lombardi Local community boards will have more decision making power if Assemblymember Grace Meng has her way.

Meng addressed various concerns of area residents at the Queensboro Hill Civic Association meeting at the Palace Diner in Flushing last week.

President Don Capalbi, who is also a staff member in Meng’s office, introduced the assemblymember by crediting her office as one of the most active and responsive in New York.

“We do more constituent services than anyone in the state, and everyone here is represented,” Capalbi said.

Meng, who is in her third year, said she doesn’t like to be called a politician and began her talk by defining her term as both an exciting and frustrating experience.

“I am blessed with the opportunity to represent newer Americans and new immigrants into the community, although it’s difficult on a state level to explain how Albany affects our life,” she said.

Quality of life issues were the focal point of her dialogue. Amidst a series of concerns regarding public intoxication, Meng has introduced legislation to establish a city Liquor Authority that will decentralize the state Authority in Albany and another proposed bill to empower local community boards with decision making authority regarding liquor licenses.

Under the present policy system, community boards have no input on the issuing of liquor licenses.

“It’s dangerous,” said Meng citing offpremise consumption of alcohol purchased from convenience stores and gas stations as the source of the problem. “The state office doesn’t know what’s going on when they issue a license, minors are coming in buying alcohol and the community board has absolutely no say on who can get a liquor license, it could be near a school, they are too distant to make these decisions.”

Meng said she has witnessed the problem in her personal life. “I’ve awoken to intoxicated persons passed out on my front lawn after a night of binge drinking, it’s where my children have to pass to get to school. We have to support legislation to put a stop to this.”

Illegal massage parlors, which have become a serious quality of life issue in Flushing, may also be a thing of the past. Working in tandem with District Attorney Richard A. Brown, Meng is presently writing legislation that would allow a tenant to be charged directly rather than awaiting a time-consuming eviction process.

“We don’t want these businesses here,” she said and vowed to work with elected officials to put an end to illegal massage parlors.

Meng also spoke of a bill that is currently being drafted to bridge the cultural gap between Asian business owners and English speakers.

“The Asian community needs encouragement,” adding, “English is the way to get help and education is the key,” Meng said while mentioning a bill currently being drafted that would provide an English Etiquette Guidebook she called a “wonderful example to teach employees and customers simple basic phrases”.

According to Meng, while state subsidies are non-existent, private business owners will fund the project. Meng admitted that it sounds idealistic but told the crowd, “It’s a step in the right direction.”

James Trikas, an attendee at the meeting, requested 60 percent mandatory English language signage.

“I want to know what you’re doing about it,” Trikas said in a fiery outburst. The meeting was called to order and Meng assuaged some members of the distressed audience by claiming that it is “a large and complicated issue” and that her office is doing everything they can to work with local business owners and concerned residents to bridge the gap through education.

“People are desiring to learn English, let us teach them,” she said.

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