2016-06-22 / Political Page

Threat To Oppose Trump At Convention

According to a recent report, Republicans who do not favor Donald Trump to be their party’s choice to run for president of the United States in this year’s election in November, will support another presidential nominee at the Republican Party convention in Philadelphia in July.

The anti-Trump group pointed out that Trump, having won the nation’s GOP primary elections as 1,237 delegates favored him at the conclusion of the primary elections, still did not have the bulk of the party supporting him. They also pointed out that few party members felt he was a strong enough candidate to carry the rest of the ticket to victories in Congressional and gubernatorial elections, and thus would weaken Republican control of the House and U.S. Senate, which they had won over recent years.

When Trump became the “presumed” Republican Party presidential candidate, shortly before the primaries were nearing their end, there was not a surge of Republican party leaders or office holders announcing endorsements of the apparent leading candidate. Typical of these was House Speaker Paul Ryan, the nation’s highest ranking elected Republican and Chairman of the Republican National Convention.

Ryan, early on, issued a statement saying he was “not ready” to endorse Trump, and later added that Republicans “want a standard-bearer that bears our standards.” These standards were not reflected by Trump’s overt insults to women, and anti-immigration remarks directed at Mexicans and Muslims.

Among other leading Republicans who sat on their hands were Jeb Bush and his family members, Senator Ted Cruz (Texas) Ohio Governor John Kasich, Senator Lindsey Graham (South Carolina). Senator John McCain (Arizona) and Mitt Romney, the GOP’s former presidential nominee, announced they would not attend the national convention.

Without Republican control or near-control of both houses, GOP lawmakers would have difficulty passing their legislative agenda, which they argued would weaken GOP chances for reelection and elections of newcomers to various offices.

And, of course, they felt that Trump would lose the national election to Democrat Hillary Clinton, thus losing the White House and all the perks that go with it, such as presidential appointments.

Responding to the threat that he would face strong opposition from the rank and file delegates at the national convention, Trump argued back that he had won the support of 1,237 delegates at the convention that would be unpledged, and Trump would face strong opposition to win their support as other nominees emerge to seek the party’s support.

Besides all the other reasons given for their anti-Trump stance, Republicans are generally put off that the billionaire builder is appealing to Wall Street leaders and other rich contributors to fund his campaign.

CROWLEY, SUPPORTERS SEEK STEM GRANTS FOR HISPANIC-SERVING SCHOOLS: Congressmembers Joseph Crowley and José Serrano are supporting a proposal to fund Hispanic-serving institutions, using federal funds, to establish STEM grant teaching programs for Hispanic students. STEM refers to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Crowley (D–Queens/Bronx), Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus, and Serrano (D–Bronx) said pending legislation would require the National Science Foundation to move forward with the grant program to support the STEM education studies at Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI).

Specifically, the language directs the National Science Foundation to establish a STEM grant program for these Institutions no more than 120 days after enactment of the bill and demonstrate a $30 million investment no later than September 30th, 2017, Crowley said.

A STEM grant program would support designated Hispanic-Serving Institutions – where Hispanic students constitute at least a quarter of full-time enrollment – in faculty development, stipends for undergraduate research, and curriculum-improvement initiatives in these critical fields. Encouraging underrepresented minorities, such as Hispanic students, to enter STEM fields is crucial for our country’s economic future.

“STEM skills are critical for our country to compete in a global economy, but unfortunately, Hispanic students are severely underrepresented in these fields of tomorrow,” said Crowley. “With a dedicated grants program, we can help Hispanic students reach their rightful place in the STEM fields. I’m thrilled this legislation includes this important language and funding, and I hope this puts us one step closer to finally creating this critical program.”

“I’m proud to once again partner with my colleagues, Representatives Joe Crowley and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) to include this report language to expand efforts to increase minority participation in STEM fields. STEM jobs are the jobs of the future and crucial to U.S. competitiveness. We need to ensure Hispanics, the fastest growing demographic, are adequately prepared to take advantage of the opportunities that are available and that will only continue to increase in the future. This STEM grant program will steer millions in funding through the National Science Foundation to schools throughout the country focused on serving Hispanic students,” said Serrano.

“In today’s 21st century economy, a degree in STEM translates into high-paying, in-demand jobs and is vital to our nation’s competitiveness, yet there is a lack of diversity when it comes to Hispanics in the workforce,” said Luján. “It is critical that we strengthen the pipeline of skilled workers by encouraging Hispanic students to pursue a degree in the STEM fields. The funding included in this legislation will make this a priority so that instead of just using the latest app, Hispanic students will become a driving force that is creating them.”

“The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) is delighted Congress continues to strongly support the creation of a dedicated institutional development grant program for Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) at the National Science Foundation,” said Antonio R. Flores, HACU president and CEO. “Since Congress initially authorized the creation of this program in 2010, its implementation has been one of HACU’s top policy priorities. On behalf of the 435 HSIs across the country, we are immensely grateful to Representatives Crowley, Serrano, and Luján for their unwavering support of this goal.

Crowley, Serrano, and Luján have been leaders in the effort to secure grant opportunities for HSIs, including co-authoring legislation and leading successful measures in the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as writing multiple letters in support of these institutions. In 2007, Crowley inserted language in the America COMPETES Act allowing the National Science Foundation to create a program focused on HSIs. Despite having this authority, the NSF has yet to establish such a program. In 2015, the members introduced the HOPES Act, legislation that would direct the NSF to establish the program, as well as establish a dedicated stream of funding for students attending HSIs. Last year, the House of Representatives passed the members’ amendment to the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act to the NSF to establish the program.

The Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill funds the Departments of Justice and Commerce, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Science Foundation (NSF), and other related agencies. This language was included in the committee report that accompanies the legislation as a result of efforts earlier this year, when Rep. Crowley led a letter requesting that the Appropriations Committee direct $30 million to the NSF specifically to create this STEM program for HSIs.

MENG DEMANDS INFO ON MASPETH TRAIN CRASH: In a letter to the head of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Congresswoman Grace Meng urged the agency to promptly release the findings of its investigation into the July 8th, 2015 crash in which a freight train slammed into a tractor-trailer at a railroad crossing on Maspeth Avenue. The investigation also includes a safety review of the railway operator, New York and Atlantic Railway (NY&A).

“I am alarmed that almost a year since this crash occurred, we are still without the answers needed to improve the safety of this railroad crossing, which is one of the most frequented grade crossings on the most active railway in my Congressional district,” said Meng (D–Flushing). “Thankfully, the specific train crash that prompted this investigation resulted in no fatalities. But appropriate safety measures must be in place to prevent an incident like this from occurring again. The FRA must quickly release the data and recommendations resulting from its probe. Every day that lingers without these crucial safety improvements is another day where lives are at risk.”

Footage of the collision – in which the truck burst into flames and was dragged 200 feet along the track – shows that the gates did not come down and the lights did not flash until just before the impact, indicating malfunctioning safety systems. Meng had been in touch with all stakeholders after the accident took place. The safety review of NY&A is intended to look at the company’s management practices and safety culture.

CROWLEY ON PUERTO RICO DEBT CRISIS: Congressman Joseph Crowley (D–Queens, the Bronx), Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus, released the statement below following his vote in favor of H.R. 5278, the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), bipartisan legislation to address Puerto Rico’s debt crisis. The bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 297-127.

“Puerto Rico is in a crisis, and it is up to Congress to act. While this legislation isn’t perfect, I believe it is a pathway to sustainability for the island.

“However, this bill is only a first step. We now need to address outstanding issues, such as treating Puerto Rico fairly under Medicare and Medicaid regulations, enacting fair tax policies that support Puerto Rican families and businesses, and promoting economic growth initiatives to help put people back to work.

“Puerto Rico deserves a future that is bright and prosperous for all its citizens. That’s why I supported this legislation and will continue to support efforts that help lift up the island and its people.”

ADDABBO TO HOST METROCARD VAN IN DISTRICT: Later this month, the MetroCard Van will make two appearances in Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr.’s district, in order to assist his constituents with their public transportation needs.

On Tuesday, June 28, the van will be stationed in two different locations throughout the day, allowing residents to purchase and refill MetroCards in spots that are convenient for them. The MetroCard Van will be stationed in front of Maspeth Federal Savings Bank, located at 56-18 69th Street, from 10 a.m. to noon and will then relocate to St. Margaret Senior Center, at 66-05 79th Place, from 1 to 3 p.m. The staff on board will be selling unlimited and pay-per-ride MetroCards and will also be equipped to add money to regular or reduced fare cards Addabbo (D–Howard Beach) stated.

Many neighborhoods across the city do not contain subway stops, where MetroCard machines are located, and have few places where residents can even purchase a card, let alone refill an existing one. The mobile van provides these commuters with the opportunity to easily purchase and refill cards in places they normally would not be able to, Addabbo explained.

“It is an unfortunate reality that there are still a great number of neighborhoods, in Queens especially, that are underserved by public transportation and lack subway stops, which are frequently the only places where MetroCard kiosks are located,” said Addabbo. “For people who live in these neighborhoods, or for those who only use the bus as part of their daily commutes, it becomes increasingly difficult to find a place to buy and refill cards. In addition, residents who are elderly or disabled may not be able to travel far to get a MetroCard, but they should not have to suffer because of that. The MetroCard Van brings these services directly to the residents of my district and offers another outlet for people to conveniently take care of their MetroCard needs.”

For more information, contact Addabbo’s Howard Beach office at 718-738-1111.

STAVISKY’S RESPONSE TO REPORTS OF SEX OFFENDER RESIDING IN PAN AM SHELTER: Senator Toby Ann Stavisky (D–Flushing) issued the following statement, after learning a male sex offender is possibly occupying the Pan Am Homeless Shelter. The lawmaker stated:

“This information, if found to be true, is absolutely despicable. This man is listed by the Division of Criminal Justice as a offender convicted of sexually assaulting three young girls – one 10-year-old and two 13-year-olds – in 1995. He is reported to be living in the Pan American, a family homeless shelter where children reside. I am absolutely horrified at the possibility of an offender against children living in the same building as hundreds of young girls and boys. How this went unnoticed by the Department of Homeless Services, is not only beyond me, but is absolutely unacceptable. The DHS is supposed to have protocols in place to prevent these very things from happening. Obviously, there needs to be a serious overhaul of the vetting system, if even one sex offender can be overlooked. I have tried, for years now, to work with the City to improve conditions at the Pan Am Shelter, but clearly there are more issues than were originally reported. I call on the DHS and Samaritan Village to remove this individual immediately, if they have not already done so. The well-being and safety of the children in the shelter and surrounding community is at stake.”

VAN BRAMER’S STATEMENT ON CITY’S ADOPTED FY17 BUDGET: Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer (D–Sunnyside) today released the following statement on New York City’s Fiscal Year 2017 Adopted Budget:

“I’m extremely proud of the budget the City Council adopted today. This budget includes record investments in arts, culture, and libraries, and provides much-needed capital and organizational funding throughout the 26th district. This budget is an $82 billion investment in creating a more vibrant, inclusive, and prosperous city.

“I’m happy to have helped lead the fight for record increases in operating funds to the Department of Cultural Affairs and arts and cultural organizations citywide. This is the first increase in funding to the Department of Cultural Affairs in over a decade. With the $10 million we successfully pushed for, and record increases in our own cultural initiatives—including CASA, the Cultural Immigrant Initiative, and SU-CASA—this budget allocates nearly $20 million more in new expense funding for arts and culture. This budget also allocates $129 million in cultural capital funding so our world-class cultural gems can invest in needed upgrades to allow them to attract visitors for years to come.

“In addition, I’m thrilled that this budget restores and baselines $343 million for our City’s public libraries, making six day service permanent citywide. This is the first time we’ve had baseline six day service in over a decade. Gone is the budget dance that clouded our libraries’ futures each year. In addition, we will invest nearly $84 million capital funding, so libraries can invest in much-needed upgrades.

“On top of these citywide victories, I’m particularly proud of some of the investments we’re able to make in the 26th Council District. With the help of the Speaker, this budget invests $3 million to fund books, furniture, and materials for the new Hunters Point Library, $3 million so the city can acquire and renovate the former Phipps playground and create a beautiful public park in Sunnyside, $1 million for capital improvements at MoMA PS1, $2 million for LaGuardia Community College and $2.6 million for our district’s public schools, so we can invest in our young people’s future.

“This is truly a budget we can believe in. I want to thank Mayor Bill de Blasio, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and all of my Council Colleagues for their hard work on this budget and continued commitment to making New York a better place.”

PERALTA’S BILL FOR BOROS TO PUSH TOURISM: The New York State Senate unanimously passed, on June 15, Senator Jose Peralta’s bill that would provide each of New York City’s individual boroughs with additional funding to promote local tourism. The bill (S.2238) would divert 4% of Hotel Occupancy Tax revenue collected within each borough, up to an annual maximum of $300,000, back to each borough for the purpose of further tourism development.

The funding would allow each individual borough to promote their own tourism attractions, from famous sites like Flushing Meadows Corona Park and other particular hidden gems. The new revenue can also be destined to promote local for-profit venues, such as coffee shops and restaurants.

Last year, New York City received a record-breaking 59.7 million visitors, which represents a 2.4% increase from the 58.3 million tourists that visited the City in 2014. “This bill will clearly foster the growth and expansion of the City’s tourism industry, a key economic engine. If the proposal becomes law, each borough will be able to further promote their particular destinations as they see fit,” said Senator Peralta (D–Jackson Heights).

In each borough, the new revenue stream will flow directly to a tourism council or similar non-profit development organization designated by the borough president, to then be approved by the Economic Development Corporation for the promotion of local attractions and restaurants.

“Capturing this portion of the hotel occupancy tax will allow us to keep our tourism boom in a sustainable fashion,” Peralta said. “When domestic and international visitors think about New York, the Empire State and Central Park come to mind. However, it is vital that places like Jackson Heights, Astoria and Flushing Meadows Corona Park are also on the radar of tourists. All our boroughs are worth visiting, each for its own rich and unique characteristics.”

MENG BILL SECURES $8 M FOR CANCER RESEARCH: U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D–Queens) passed legislation on June 15 securing an additional $8 million for the Department of Defense Peer-Reviewed Cancer Research Program. The Congresswoman’s amendment was attached to H.R. 5293, the “Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2017.”

The multi-million dollar increase in research funding will be used to combat cancers of the bladder, brain, colorectal, liver, lymphoma, melanoma and other skin cancers, mesothelioma, pancreatic cancer, stomach cancer, and cancer in children, adolescents, and young adults.

“I’m pleased that the House of Representatives unanimously agreed to allocate additional federal dollars to combat diseases that kill millions of Americans every year,” said Meng. “Too many lives are lost far too early, and it is my hope that this funding will contribute to finding a cure for these horrific cancers. We all know someone whose life has been touched by a cancer victim or cancer survivor. I hope that one day Americans will not have to know that pain.”

The Meng amendment was supported by Action to Cure Kidney Cancer, American Brain Tumor Association, American Urological Association, Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, Bladder Cancer Action Network, Fight Colorectal Cancer, Melanoma Research Foundation, and Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

The Department of Defense Appropriations Act is the annual spending bill that funds the Department of Defense. This bill appropriates $575 billion for Department of Defense activities in fiscal year 2017.

The $8 million increase brings the Peer-Reviewed Cancer Research Program up to the Senate’s funding level for the account, significantly improving the likelihood that the increased funding amount will be signed into law.

Additional information about the Peer-Reviewed Cancer Research Program can be found here: http://cdmrp.army.mil/prcrp/.

SIMOTAS BILL SPEEDS TESTING RAPE KITS, PREVENTS FUTURE BACKLOGS: On the last day of its session, the Assembly passed legislation (A10067) sponsored by Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D–Astoria) that mandates the timely processing of sexual offense evidence kits (rape kits) and ensures that rape kits are tracked from hospitals to police agencies and from police agencies to forensic laboratories. The Senate earlier passed a companion bill (S6430) sponsored by Senator Kemp Hannon.

“For the sake of sexual assault victims, who must undergo an immediate, intrusive and arduous exam for evidence collection, we have a duty to make sure rape kits are never neglected,” said Simotas. “New York State needs this law if we want justice for victims, prosecution and punishment for the guilty and for innocent suspects to be set free.  I want to commend Senator Hannon for being a leader on this important issue,” Simotas added.

“As the Senate Health Committee Chair, getting a bill passed that protects rape victims was one of my main priorities.  I’m proud of this legislature that we got done.  If these bills become law, sexual assault victims will never suffer the additional trauma of not having their rape kits tested,” said Senator Kemp Hannon.

“In 1993, I was violently raped and robbed at gunpoint in New York City. The horror and trauma of that event is indescribable. But I was fortunate: medical examiners recognized that my body was a crime scene.  My rape kit was eventually tested 10 years later, and my attacker was identified and convicted.  Assemblywoman Simotas and Senator Hannon are my heroes for recognizing that ALL rape victims in New York deserve this justice, and deserve the same minimum standard of care in ensuring their rape kit is tested,” said New York resident Natasha Alexenko, Founder of Natasha’s Justice Project, www.natashasjusticeproject.org. “Justice matters. It matters to victims like me. It matters to the families of victims. It matters to the wrongfully accused.  It matters to all the people of New York,”  Alexenko added.

The Simotas and Hannon bill mandates that when law enforcement agencies receive a rape kit, it must be sent to a forensic laboratory for testing within 10 days.  Forensic laboratories must test the kits and develop Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) eligible profiles and report results back to the submitting police agency and local district attorney within 90 days.

In 2003, New York City received $2.5 million from the federal government to test a backlog of 17,000 rape kits. However, without the tracking and reporting requirements of the Simotas bill, there is no way to prevent future backlogs from developing, Simotas stated, adding the bill solves the problem of untested rape kits wherever they may be sitting on shelves. The legislation requires that rape kits, collected before the effective date of the new law, be sent to a forensic lab within 180 days and that results be produced within 120 days.

Forensic labs would be required to submit quarterly reports to the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services, as would each law enforcement agency that submits kits for testing. The reports would reveal compliance or lack of compliance with deadlines and the existence of any untested kits, the lawmaker added and explained, the law also requires that DCJS establish a system to coordinate the transportation of sexual offense evidence to and from laboratories and that funding sufficient to test kits be made available.

KATZ ALLOCATES MILLIONS TO BOROUGH’S CUNY INSTITUTIONS: Borough President Melinda Katz has announced an allocation of $3.64 million of her Fiscal Year 2017 discretionary capital dollars to fund projects at four of the City University of New York (CUNY) public institutions of higher learning in Queens.

The funding will enhance the educational experience for CUNY students who attend Queens College in Flushing, York College in Jamaica, Queensborough Community College in Bayside and LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City. The fifth CUNY institution in Queens – CUNY School of Law in Long Island City – did not request any capital funding from the Borough President this year, Katz explained.

“As the third-largest university system in the United States, CUNY offers a high-quality and remarkably affordable and competitive higher education that enables the pursuit of the American Dream,” said Katz. “CUNY has been a critical door to opportunities for millions of New Yorkers and their families, and here in Queens we’re proud to be home to some of the best of CUNY schools. This multi-million dollar allocation of public funding is a direct investment into the public colleges of our borough so that CUNY remains able to meet the educational needs of its hard-working students.”

“Queens Borough President Katz has provided critical and generous funding for CUNY projects that will enhance program quality, student experience and college value at Queens, York, LaGuardia and Queensborough Community Colleges,” said CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken. “I deeply appreciate her commitment to CUNY, which has such a positive impact on the borough and city.”

The $3.64 million allocation for capital projects at the Queens CUNY campuses breaks down as follows, according to Katz:

• $1 million to fully fund the construction of recording studios for the new Music and Production Certificate program at Queens College. It will provide multi-use facilities for classrooms, rehearsal and performance spaces, and laboratories for performers, composers and teachers. The project will provide the proper acoustical components, sound absorbers, diffusers and ceiling elements, creating spaces conducive to live musical performances and high-quality audio recordings. The studios also will be ideally suited for distance learning applications and webcasting for music students as well as for the college community. Anticipated completion January 2019.

• $1 million toward the construction of the Center for Career and Employment Training at LaGuardia Community College. The Center will serve as a central location for all LaGuardia Community College students to connect to a wide network of employers and have access to real-time labor market data. The Center will also offer students advisement and training that will lead to employment in high demand and growing job sectors in New York City. The total projected cost of the project is $6 million, with a possible $2 million from the New York City Council and $3 million from New York State. Design is set to begin July 2017 with construction to begin January 2018. The anticipated completion is August 2018.

• $1 million toward creating a modern kitchen and dining hall at Queensborough Community College that will replace the college’s current undersized basement dining hall. The allocation is toward the balance of city funding needed for Phase 2 based on current estimates, with a possible $1 million from New York State. Anticipated completion is March 2019.

• $640,000 toward renovating the greenhouse at York College.

This year’s $3.64 million allocation comes on top of the $8.75 million previously allocated by Borough President Katz between Fiscal Years 2015-16 toward CUNY capital projects.

ADDABBO: ‘MORE SERIOUS GRAFFITI-STIFFER PENALTIES’: To more effectively underscore that graffiti intentionally written to encourage hatred against other people based on race, religion, sexual orientation or other basic human attributes “is far more serious and dangerous than mindless scribbling,” Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. recently voted to approve a bill (S.2655) that would increase penalties for this kind of bias-based graffiti to up to four years in prison.

“Graffiti is a continuing neighborhood problem that causes all of us a great deal of frustration when shops, walls, sidewalks and other public places are covered with what appears to be unattractive doodling,” said Addabbo. “However, when that ‘tagging’ turns into swastikas or hateful language, that’s when your garden-variety, irritating vandalism crosses the line and requires greater punishment,” the Howard Beach lawmaker added.

Under the legislation recently approved by the full State Senate, penalties would be increased for graffiti intentionally motivated by bias against a person’s race, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice and other factors. Currently, graffiti crimes are class A misdemeanors, carrying a maximum sentence of a year in jail. This bill would raise the potential prison time to one and one-third-to four years, at the discretion of the judge, Addabbo said.

Addabbo also noted that there have been varied instances of this type of activity in his district, including an incident last April when anti-Semitic and racist graffiti was found scrawled inside the bathrooms of the Resorts World Casino, and another circumstance of anti-Asian graffiti in Flushing last August.

“No matter where it happens, we need to strongly denounce graffiti that seeks to denigrate people based on their race, religion, nationality or any other human characteristic,” said Addabbo. “While vandalism of any kind is certainly unwelcome in our communities, we need to take a strong stance against graffiti that belittles others and that makes all of us just a little smaller by its very existence.”

Now that it has been approved by the Senate, the bill is under review by the Assembly Committee on Codes.

MALONEY BILLS MODERNIZE, EXPAND FMLA: Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney has introduced two bills, the FMLA Inclusion Act and FMLA Enhancement Act, to support more working families by expanding and enhancing the Family and Medical Leave Act. Maloney joined with Representatives Jan Schakowsky (IL) and Frederica Wilson (FL) to introduce a package of bills designed to improve the FMLA.

Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan) stated: “Today’s FMLA expansion bills are an important step to broaden the provisions of the law to ensure that American workers can take the necessary leave to adequately care for their loved ones and also recognizing that family structures are not one-size-fits-all. On its own, the FMLA is historic and vitally important, enabling workers to take sufficient time to care for themselves and their families without risk to their jobs or economic security. However, as it currently stands, FMLA provisions only extend to approximately 60 percent of the workforce, leaving millions of workers without these protections, but we can change that. These improvements will make the FMLA work better for hardworking families.”

Maloney explained that The FMLA Inclusion Act expands the definition of family, recognizing that all families do not look the same and that employees need to take leave to care for elderly grandparents, young grandchildren, in-laws, domestic partners and others. In addition, the FMLA Enhancement Act expands FMLA protection to workers at companies with 15-49 employees and allows for unpaid “microleave” to accompany family members to medical appointments or attend parent-teacher conferences. She noted that Schakowsky introduced the FMLA for Part Time Workers Act to modernize the FMLA by allowing the nearly half of employees who work less than full time to access critical unpaid leave, and Wilson introduced the Family Leave for Parental Involvement in Education Act to allow parents and caregivers to take up to 8 hours a month and 48 hours a year of unpaid leave to attend school meetings and events.

STAVISKY PRAISES PSC, CUNY CONTRACT: Senator Toby Ann Stavisky (D–Flushing) issued the following statement in response to a contract agreement between PSC and CUNY management:

“I am delighted to see the Professional Staff Congress and DC 37 reached a tentative agreement with CUNY after faculty and staff went for more than six years without a contract. I am so happy both parties could come to a fair agreement that honors the hard work the CUNY faculty puts in each and every day.”

DENDEKKER TO HOST FREE COMMUNITY EVENT, CONCERT!: Mark your calendars, as Assemblyman Michael DenDekker hosts a full day of community services, capped off with a free concert right in Jackson Heights!

On Saturday, June 25 as DenDekker and Council Member Costa Constantinides host “Books, Barrels, and Shredding” from 10 am – 2 pm at the Jackson Heights Shopping Center (on 31st Ave and 77th St) where three great services will be available: free shredding of unwanted important personal documents; the opportunity to take out books from the Queens Mobile Library; and the opportunity to take home a barrel to collect rain water for your usage! Please note that the paper shredding will end at 1 pm.

Also on Saturday, June 25, all are invited to join DenDekker as he hosts a free concert from 4 pm – 6 pm also at the Jackson Heights Shopping Center! Bring your own lawn chair and enjoy an outside concert, free gifts, and many special discounts from co-sponsors (Modell’s Sporting Goods, Petco, Plaka Restaurant, AT&T, Rite Aid, Carvel, Subway, Pearl Vision, Food Universe, Bruno’s Pizza, Hairs the Place, Hi Style Cleaners, Santander Bank and Sherwin Williams Paint Store). Bands will perform a show for the community to celebrate the first official weekend of summer.

For more information on any of the events being held that day, please contact DenDekker’s office at (718) 457-0384.

ADDABBO BILL DEALS WITH MESSY PAINT DISPOSAL: Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. joined with his State Senate colleagues in approving legislation (S.4926) he co-sponsors that would establish a greatly needed statewide paint stewardship program to give New Yorkers greater opportunities to safely and conveniently dispose of old cans of paint.

“Constituents who participate in my community recycling events often mention how hard it is to safely dispose of old paint and other household hazardous waste,” said Addabbo, who serves as a member of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee. “The bill we passed in the Senate would go a long way towards solving this stubborn problem by helping to protect our environment, saving municipalities money and making it easier for all of us to feel good about cleaning out our basements and garages of old paint without posing a threat to our waterways and other natural resources,” Addabbo (D–Howard Beach) said.

Under the proposal, paint manufacturers would be required to either set up a paint stewardship program of their own to accept leftover household paint from consumers, or form a non-profit organization of producers to launch an initiative for the collection, transportation, reuse, recycling, and/or possible burning for energy of old paint by appropriately licensed facilities. All aspects of the stewardship program must be conducted using environmentally sound management practices to ensure safe disposal and handling of the paint, which would cover containers holding up to five gallons.  Post-consumer paint collection sites would be conveniently located in cities and throughout the state to make it easy for people to participate, Addabbo said.

“By some accounts, about 3.1 million gallons of paint go unused in New York State every year, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that about 10 percent of household paint nationwide becomes waste,” said Addabbo. “Tossing old paint into the garbage, washing it down the sink or burning it poses a threat to our environment that we can minimize with an effective safe disposal program.”

GIANARIS, CROWLEY, PERALTA, SIMOTAS, CONSTANTINIDES REACT TO ORLANDO SHOOTING: This Saturday, the Western Queens community will gather in Astoria Park in response to the recent Orlando shooting, to hold a vigil for the 49 killed and 53 injured victims of the Pulse nightclub attack. Elected representatives condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms, and call for solidarity against hate.

Senator Michael Gianaris said, “I am sickened by how common these attacks have become. While I am proud to have authored key parts of New York’s strictest gun laws, it is time for our federal government to follow suit and put a stop to these monstrous and inhumane shootings. My thoughts are with those affected by this horrific act and the LGBT community that was targeted.”

Rep. Joe Crowley said, “As our nation mourns the lives lost during yet another brutal, senseless act of violence, we stand united with the people of Orlando and the members of our LGBT community to denounce hate, any attempt to instill fear within our communities, and efforts to undermine the values we hold dear as Americans. But we can also come together to see what steps we can take to help prevent tragedies like this in the future. Gun violence continues to take an incredible toll on our society and we owe it to the victims in Orlando and all over the country, to act swiftly and figure out how we can keep dangerous weapons of war off of our streets and from falling into the wrong hands.”

State Senator José Peralta said, “As we continue to mourn, pray and bury the victims of the heartbreaking massacre in Orlando, I hope that we, once and for all, come together and put an end to gun violence. Far too many times, we have come together to denounce barbaric acts. This has to stop, and it has to stop now. We must work with one voice to prevent crimes of hate, hate against the LGBTQ community, and hate against America, from occurring again and again.”

Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas said, “Our hearts are breaking for the victims of the Orlando massacre and for their devastated families and friends. But grief won’t stop the next madman armed with an assault rifle. We need an outright, nationwide ban on the sale of assault rifles. It’s long past time for the U.S. Congress to act. Assault rifles do not belong in the hands of civilians.” She added, “Western Queens, like our nation, is a beautiful amalgam of people from all backgrounds, orientations and many faiths. We all share in the blessing that is freedom. We all have the right to live unafraid of being slaughtered by assault weapons because of who we are or where we happen to be at any particular moment.”

Councilman Costa Constantinides said, “We are all saddened by the horrific acts in Orlando.  Our thoughts are with the victims of the massacre and their friends and families. We stand in solidarity with the LGBT community against this senseless act of violence and terror. This heinous crime shows that we must enact comprehensive gun violence prevention legislation on a national level.”

On Sunday, June 12th, a mass shooting terrorist attack occurred in Orlando, Florida, inside Pulse, a gay nightclub. It has been confirmed as the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman and the deadliest incident against the LGBT community in U.S. history. Across the nation, thousands have gathered to express their profound sadness and stand up to gun violence.

Senator Gianaris has been a leading advocate for stricter gun laws, as well as sweeping anti-terror and anti-hate measures. The Senator authored two bills included in the New York SAFE Act establishing universal background checks for firearms sales and the regulation of firearm and ammunition dealers, as well as legislation protecting New York’s sensitive power and transportation infrastructure, including the Energy Security Act, the first major anti-terror law after 9/11 and a national model in anti-terror legislation.

This year’s $3.64 million allocation comes on top of the $8.75 million previously allocated by Borough President Katz between Fiscal Years 2015-16 toward CUNY capital projects.

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