2017-08-23 / Political Page

I On Politics

CROWLEY HAILS FIFTH ANNIVERSARY OF ENROLLMENT IN DACA PROGRAM: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement on the fifth anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program taking effect:

“The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program brought stability, hope, and opportunity to millions of children and remains a critical program that creates a stronger United States. Unfortunately, the Trump administration seems bent on undoing this progress in a crude attempt to further its anti-immigrant agenda. But DACA recipients, including those in Queens and the Bronx, should be assured that Democrats are fiercely continuing to fight for them. We will not stand quietly by while President Trump attacks key principles of the American Dream.”

CROWLEY SLAMS TRUMP’S ‘DISGRACEFUL REMARKS’ ON CHARLOTTESVILLE: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement on President Trump’s remarks on the events during a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville on August 12:

“President Trump has disgraced the office of the presidency and clearly lacks a moral compass. A president who should be representing the party of Lincoln has instead chosen to stand with white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and domestic terrorists. It is beyond the pale.

“Every American, regardless of party, should immediately condemn the president’s rhetoric. To my Republican colleagues, if you were waiting for a time to speak out and say ‘enough is enough,’ it is now. No political agenda is worth standing behind a president who normalizes the un- American behavior of Nazis and white supremacists.”

REPS. MALONEY, ELLISON, OTHERS URGE PROPER FUNDING OF 2020 CENSUS: Congressmembers Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) and Keith Ellison (MN-5) this week led 30 other members in a request to Secretary of Commerce Wilbur I. Ross Jr. that he “quickly appoint new leadership and ensure that the (Census) Bureau has sufficient funds to fulfill its constitutional mandate and conduct a complete and accurate 2020 decennial census.

The lawmakers expressed their concern that “the impending departure of Census Bureau Director John H. Thompson leaves the Bureau without clear leadership as it begins its ‘ramp up’ period in the two years before the kick off of the 2020 decennial census,” and that due to budget cuts, the bureau’s testing schedule for operations and new technology have been critically delayed.

The full text of the letter follows:

“Dear Secretary Ross:

“We write to express our strong concern with the current state of the Census Bureau and the problems it is facing as it works to prepare for the 2020 decennial census. Lack of leadership, woeful underfunding, delayed testing of new technology, and new demographic challenges lead us to believe that significant action must be taken to get planning and preparation on track to ensure an accurate census count in 2020.

“The impending departure of Census Bureau Director John H. Thompson leaves the Bureau without clear leadership as it begins its “ramp up” period in the two years before the kick off of the 2020 decennial census. As you know, Director Thompson has been serving in his role since 2013, during which time he has overseen much of the planning and preparation for a census that is expected to be the largest and most technologically advanced in U.S. history. A leadership void seriously threatens the timeline of preparation, which has already experienced countless delays and setbacks. We cannot emphasize enough the need for clear, decisive leadership at the Census Bureau during this critical time.

“The 2020 decennial census planning and preparation effort has been chronically underfunded. Compared to past decennial censuses, the Census Bureau has never had to implement planning with so few resources. In November 2016, Census Bureau Director Thompson testified that enacted appropriation for decennial census planning and preparation was significantly less than requested between Fiscal Years 2013 to 2016. During this period, enacted levels fell short of requests by $184.8 million. Compounding this issue are the continuing appropriations at reduced levels for the Census Bureau, which have forced the Bureau to make difficult decisions about the testing of new technologies ahead of 2020. Finally, President Trump’s request of $1.5 billion for FY2018 reflects only a $27 million increase over the FY2017 enacted level, an entirely inadequate number given the demands on the Bureau leading up to the census to ensure a successful execution.

“The lack of adequate funding has forced the Census Bureau to delay its testing schedule for operations and new technology. Due to budgetary constraints, the Bureau cancelled the scheduled 2017 tests of field operations in Puerto Rico, the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North and South Dakota, and the Colville Indian Reservation and off-reservation trust land in Washington. We understand that this field testing will now be incorporated into the already strained 2018 end-to-end test, placing even more pressure on what is supposed to be the final test for systems and operations, scheduled to begin later this year.

“In addition to delayed testing, the Census Bureau is also facing difficulty developing the nearly 50 IT systems that 2020 census operations will require. As of October 2016, only three of these systems had been delivered leaving GAO to question whether the Bureau would be ready for the 2018 end-to-end test[i]. The Census Bureau is facing increasingly complex socio-demographic challenges that threaten the Bureau’s ability to achieve a high-quality, cost-effective count of all US residents. Changes in the population profile between 1970 and 2015 underscore just how difficult a task the 2020 decennial census will be. The population has swelled by 58.1% to over 321 million residents and the number of households that need to be enumerated has more than doubled since the 1970 decennial census.

“Furthermore, public trust in our federal government is at an alarmingly low. One 2015 poll revealed that only 19% of the public trusts the federal government “just about always” or “most of the time”, compared to 54% of the population in 1970. These statistics pose a threat to census operations in the short term by threatening robust participation from skeptical citizens. A comprehensive, accurate, and well executed decennial census, however, will serve to improve trust in our federal institutions by demonstrating to the American people that their government can faithfully execute critical and constitutionally mandated functions.

“The problems and challenges described in this letter have, once again, led the GAO to place the decennial census on its notorious “High Risk” list[ii]. We are concerned as to whether the planning and preparation cycle can correct itself and get back on track in time to conduct an accurate, cost-effective count with new, untested technology. We strongly urge you to quickly appoint new leadership and ensure that the Bureau has sufficient funds to fulfill its constitutional mandate and conduct a complete and accurate 2020 decennial census.”

The letter was signed by Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), Keith Ellison (MN-5), and 28 more Congressmembers.

DEMOCRATS’ PRIMARY LIST: The following is a list of nominations for the Democratic
Primary on September 12, 2017:
Michael Tolkin, Brooklyn
Sal F. Albanese, Staten Island
Richard S. Bashner, Brooklyn
Robert Gangi, Manhattan
Bill de Blasio, Brooklyn
David Eisenbach, Manhattan
Letitia James, Brooklyn
19th District – Paul Vallone, Flushing; Paul D.
Graziano, Flushing
20th District – Peter A. Koo, Flushing; Alison
Tan, Flushing
21st District – Francisco P. Moya, Corona;
Hiram Monserrate, E. Elmhurst
23rd District – Barry Grodenchik, Queens
Village; Benny A. Itteera, Floral Park
24th District – Rory Lancman, Fresh
Meadows; Mohammed Rahman, Jamaica
27th District – I. Daneek Miller, Cambria
Heights; Anthony Rivers, Saint Albans
28th District – Hettie V. Powell, Queens,
Adrienne E. Adams, Jamaica, Richard David,
South Ozone Park
30th District – Elizabeth Crowley, Glendale;
Robert R. Holden, Middle Village
32nd District – Helal Sheikh, Ozone Park;
Michael Scala, Howard Beach; William Ruiz,
Ozone Park
34th District – Tommy Torres, Brooklyn;
Antonio Reynoso, Brooklyn

COALITION FOR THE HOMELESS’ ‘PROJECT: BACK TO SCHOOL’ RETURNS TO BOROUGH HALL: As part of her commitment to getting the school year off to a good start for all children, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz is encouraging members of the public to once again donate backpacks and other school supplies to homeless children as part of “Project: Back to School,” an annual initiative organized by the Coalition for the Homeless.

“There were over 100,000 homeless students in New York City public schools, according to recent counts,” said Borough President Katz. “All children, no matter where they sleep at night, deserve the opportunity to learn. We can help ensure every child has that opportunity by providing the backpacks and school supplies that all school kids need. Queens residents are encouraged to generously donate backpacks and other school supplies to Project: Back to School. Such donations will make a real difference in the lives of so (many) in need.”

Katz office is accepting donations of backpacks and other school supplies now through September 1st at Queens Borough Hall, located at 120-55 Queens Boulevard in Kew Gardens. Donations will be accepted on the first floor of Borough Hall in a box located just inside the front entrance in the main lobby next to the security desk. Donations dropped off at Queens Borough Hall are anonymous and are not tax-deductible. All donated items received will be distributed to schoolchildren living in homeless shelters to help them have the tools they need to succeed in school.

“Project Back to School gives thousands of homeless students the school supplies they desperately need but simply can’t afford on their own,” said Dave Giffen, Executive Director of the Coalition for the Homeless, the nation’s oldest advocacy and direct service organization helping homeless men, women and children. “Becoming homeless is a shocking disruption in any child’s development and education, but thanks to Borough President Melinda Katz and hundreds of volunteers and donors across the city, we can make sure that these young learners have the supplies they need to continue their education.”

Last year, more than 105,000 New York City public school children experienced homelessness at some point during the year, according to the Coalition for the Homeless. That number equals nearly 10% of the students enrolled in our city’s public school system.

In addition to backpacks, the Coalition for the Homeless says supplies that are much needed by elementary school children include No. 2 pencils, pencil sharpeners, composition notebooks, colored pencils, crayons, washable markers, glue, erasers, safety scissors and rulers. Also needed are items used by middle and high school children, including 1” and 1 ½” binders, filler binder paper (loose leaf), scissors, pocket folders, scientific calculators and blue and black pens.

This is the fourth year in a row that Katz is hosting a Project: Back to School drop-off site at Queens Borough Hall, which is open Monday through Friday during business hours and can be easily reached by mass transit by taking the E or F subway lines to the Kew Gardens-Union Turnpike station.

BRAUNSTEIN’S LEGISLATION CRACKING DOWN ON UNAUTHORIZED SURVEILANCE SIGNED INTO LAW: Assemblyman Edward C. Braunstein (D-Bayside) announced that Governor Cuomo signed into law legislation he introduced to crack down on the unauthorized invasion of privacy by video surveillance. Following reports of cameras being installed to videotape neighboring private property, this bill (A.861-A/S.870-A) establishes a private right of action for damages for unlawfully filming an individual’s backyard.

“It is disturbing that some individuals have been purposely filming their neighbors, including young children, in their backyards,” said Assemblyman Braunstein. “Since I introduced this legislation in the Assembly, I have heard from people around the state who have been victimized by this practice. This law will provide families with legal recourse in the event that someone tries to invade the privacy they deserve in their backyards.”

“Everyone should be able to feel safe in their own home and in their own backyard,” Governor Cuomo said. “This legislation will crack down on disturbing behavior, and give New Yorkers legal recourse and peace of mind in order to protect their privacy and potentially their own personal safety.”

Unlawful surveillance was made a crime in 2003, however, it only establishes criminal penalties for unlawful video surveillance when the videotaping occurs in a setting with a “reasonable expectation of privacy” (i.e., a bathroom or changing room), or if a perpetrator had to trespass on property to videotape or install a camera. This bill provides additional protections for homeowners, giving them the ability to sue a neighbor for invasion of privacy if the neighbor records recreational activities in their backyard with intent to harass, annoy or alarm another person, or with intent to threaten the person or their property.

Senator Catharine Young said, “Protecting the privacy of New Yorkers is paramount to ensuring a sense of security for individuals and families on their own property. This legislation will extend protections for an individual’s right to privacy in their own backyard while cracking down on illicit invasions of privacy that may occur on their property. I applaud the Governor for signing this important bill into law today.”

CONDEMN ‘HATE SPEECH’ VANDALISM IN CEMETERY: Councilman Peter Koo stated the following regarding reports of three teens who broke into Cypress Hills Cemetery and spray painted hate speech and anti-NYPD phrases.

“Targeting tombstones with hate speech is truly a despicable act of desecration. This has no place in our community. Please contact Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477) if you have any information regarding the identity of these hoodlums.”

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley also condemned the acts: “Queens is strengthened every day by its diversity. There is absolutely zero tolerance for acts of hate, and the vandalism that occurred in our historic Cypress Hills cemetery. As a community, we are proud of our values and must stand together against this horrendous act and work with law enforcement to hold those responsible accountable.”

WEPRIN STATEMENT ON QUEENS MUSEUM: “As the preeminent museum of Queens, the Queens Museum is a leading museum in one of the most diverse places in the world.

“As such, even considering to renege on a commitment to host a reenactment of the United Nations vote confirming Israel’s sovereignty, on the 70th Anniversary of an event that took place in Queens, is unacceptable. Commemorating an event that honors one of the United States’ closest allies, which happens to be the only democracy in the Middle East, is in no way political and is simply a celebration of the State of Israel.

“Although I am pleased to hear that this outrageous decision is being reversed, I am troubled that the occurrence of this exciting event in the world’s most diverse borough was ever in doubt. I am pleased the Queens Museum has made the right decision in welcoming the celebration of one of Queens’ proudest moments, the 70th anniversary of the United Nation’s 1947 vote for the establishment of the State of Israel.”

MENG: ‘JUSTICE’ TO PROVIDE FEMALE INMATES WITH SANITARY PRODUCTS: After urging the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) to make tampons, pads and liners available to federal female inmates, U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) announced that the agency has agreed to do so.

Under the new policy, the Federal Bureau of Prisons will be required to provide these essential products to incarcerated women free of charge.

Last year, Meng, joined by NYC Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, sent a letter to the DOJ calling for these types of feminine hygiene items to be made available to all female inmates.

“I applaud this decision by the Department of Justice and I thank the agency for understanding our concerns about the importance of inmates having access to these needed products,” said Meng. “The move will be a huge boost in our efforts to make tampons, pads, liners and other feminine hygiene products more accessible to women, and it will help restore dignity and proper hygiene practices to the many inmates who found these items out of reach. Though long overdue, I welcome this new policy, and look forward to its implementation.”

“Menstrual hygiene products are a human necessity and every woman under the jurisdiction of correctional authorities deserves to have unobstructed access to them,” said Ferreras-Copeland. “Across New York state, we have made strides to ensure menstrual equity, and I applaud Congresswoman Grace Meng for continuing to carry forward this important cause for women everywhere.”

Earlier this year, Meng introduced the Menstrual Equity for All Act of 2017 (H.R. 972) which contains five provisions to help different populations of women and girls have better access feminine hygiene products.

Last year, Meng convinced FEMA to add feminine hygiene products to the list of items that homeless assistance providers can purchase with federal grant funds. The Congresswoman also advocated for the new law that eliminated the New York state sales tax for feminine hygiene products and advocated for the recent New York City law that increased access to feminine hygiene products for public school students, shelter residents and inmates.

MILLER, ADDABBO TO INTRO HOTEL TRANSPARENCY BILL: Assemblyman Mike Miller and NYS Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. will be introducing legislation in their respective chambers mirrored after a New York City Council bill sponsored by Councilman Eric Ulrich. This bill informs paying guests that a lodging establishment has entered into a contract with a municipality or state entity to house homeless families or individuals.

Paying customers are not aware and are not informed that an establishment is in contract with the state or municipality to house homeless individuals. Ulrich introduced a similar bill recently in the City Council so that paying customers are required to be informed by the establishment and have the option to continue to reserve a room or look for an establishment that is not in a current contract, the lawmakers explained.

As the homelessness crisis continues, hotels and motels are being contracted by municipalities to temporarily house the homeless. These conditions are non-conducive to families or individuals as there is no stove to cook on and they are massed together. This legislation would potentially discourage the use of hotels and motels as mass housing for the homeless, they stated.

Miller said, “Paying customers have the right to know what an establishment they intend to lodge at is doing. We have an obligation to be transparent about where homeless families and individuals are being housed. This bill will go a long way to make sure that the tourism and hotel industry in the state of New York is giving accurate information to prospective customers.”

“This legislation is not in any way intended to hurt homeless individuals and families living in hotels in Queens or throughout the five boroughs, but it is an effort to ensure that the city hears loud and clear that this type of housing to address the homeless crisis is not working and is almost always completely inappropriate for those in need,” said Addabbo (D-Howard Beach). “Just from a consumer disclosure perspective, customers booking into a hotel should be informed that the facility is also being used as a homeless shelter. But more importantly, this legislation is aimed at the larger issue of developing a more comprehensive and effective solution to assisting our city’s homeless, and potentially sending a message to unscrupulous hotel owners who regularly seek to profit from the suffering of others. The city’s over-reliance on commercial hotels – which often deprives homeless residents of access to a kitchen, reasonable accommodations, affordable food, mass transit, and social and other basic services – can also cost local taxpayers more than $500,000 per day.”

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