2017-11-15 / Political Page

I On Politics


-RAMPED-UP DEPORTATION WILL HAVE ‘DEVASTATING IMPACT’: House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement after President Donald Trump announced his intention to end a portion of the Temporary Protected Status program, which has allowed hundreds of thousands of individuals from nations suffering from war, extreme poverty, or natural disasters to legally remain in the United States:

“President Trump’s mass deportation machine is once again expanding its reach. The newest target is long-time residents of the United States who are at risk of being shipped off to countries where strife and poverty are the norm. Not only is this decision cruel and nonsensical, it will have a dramatic impact on the American economy. The mass layoffs that will occur when these individuals are deported would cost employers approximately $967 million and would have a devastating impact on the service, construction, day care, and retail economies.

“These individuals deserve this protection and the ability to stay in the United States. They’ve passed numerous extensive background checks and have a strong history of contributing to our communities. This is nothing more than President Trump’s continued attempts to appeal to the worst voices in the Republican Party. Congressional Democrats will not stop fighting until our most vulnerable immigrants, such as these individuals, DREAMers, and their families, have security in the U.S.”

-WAYS AND MEANS REPUBLICANS REJECT RENT RELIEF: Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee rejected on November 8 an amendment offered by House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) to provide tax relief to renters in Queens, the Bronx, and across the country.

Chairman Crowley’s amendment would have created a tax credit to help “rent-burdened” Americans – those who pay more than 30 percent of their income in rent – and a refundable tax credit to assist financially struggling families living in government-subsidized rental housing.

“Republicans have abandoned middle-class families to provide lavish benefits to special interests with their scam of a tax bill. Renters in Queens, the Bronx, and across the country, are feeling squeezed financially and this amendment would have provided real relief to middle-class families,” said Crowley. “By rejecting my common-sense amendment, House Republicans continue to put hardworking Americans last.”

Earlier this year, Crowley introduced The Rent Relief Act, federal legislation that mirrors the amendment offered Wednesday. This bill would help rent-burdened Americans balance the needs of their families with the burden of increasingly unaffordable housing markets. Throughout the United States, 111 million Americans live in rental housing. In New York City, nearly two-thirds of all households are occupied by renters – twice the national average.

Under Crowley’s bill, qualified individuals who live in rental housing as their primary residence and pay more than 30 percent of their income in rent would be eligible for a refundable tax credit. Individuals who live in government-subsidized rental housing could claim the value of one month’s rent as a refundable tax credit.

Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee also rejected another dozen common-sense amendments that would have restored critical provisions that benefit middle-class families, including ensuring New Yorkers can continue to deduct state and local taxes, student loan interest payments, and medical expenses.

-ONGOING CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS BETWEEN AT&T AND WIRELESS WORKERS: US Rep Joe Crowley issued the following statement on the ongoing contract negotiations between AT&T and 21,000 wireless workers represented by the Communications Workers of America:

“In an ever-shifting economy, we need to ensure American workers are not left behind. I hope AT&T, one of America’s largest telecommunications companies, will negotiate in good faith with the hard-working individuals who deserve job security and fair wages to offset the rising cost of living. For the families in the communities I represent in Queens and the Bronx, and the countless others around the country, I hope both parties can work toward a swift resolution that treats workers with dignity while allowing the company to continue to invest in America.”

-THE 79th ANNIVERSARY OF KRISTALLNACHT: On November 9 the 79th anniversary of Kristallnacht, US Rep. Joe Crowley issued the following statement reaffirming his commitment to combating anti-Semitism, discrimination, and hatred:

“Today we honor the memories of the 6 million men, women, and children whose lives were stolen because of the bigotry, hatred, and anti-Semitism of the Nazi regime.

“Kristallnacht was a horrific part of the effort by the Nazi regime to eliminate the Jewish people from the face of the earth.

“This day is a time to recommit ourselves to ensuring genocide and atrocities never are allowed to happen again. Unfortunately, the fight against anti- Semitism and hate is far from over. Anti- Semitic crimes have been steadily increasing throughout the last year and have spiked since the beginning of 2017.

“We must consistently condemn violence and threats against the Jewish community and any individual because of their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.”

LANDLORD DEMANDING IMMIGRATION STATUS ‘VIOLATING HUMAN RIGHTS’: NYS Senator Jose Peralta issued the following statement regarding the complaint against a Queens landlord who requested proof of immigration status of his tenants: “I was appalled when a constituent came into my office with a letter from a landlord requesting proof of immigration status to his tenants threatening them with eviction if they did not comply. As soon as we were alerted of the existence of this unacceptable, racist letter, we immediately notified the state authorities. I am very glad Governor Cuomo took action and investigated the case we uncovered, an investigation that led to the filing of a complaint by the State Division of Human Rights against the Corona landlord. This is clearly a case of housing and immigration discrimination against my constituents, and I am not going to tolerate this kind of inconceivable behavior.”

ADDABBO PLEASED WITH NY PAID FAMILY LEAVE PROGRAM: Noting that it is less than two months before New York State’s working families will be able to begin taking paid time off from work to care for new babies or very ill loved ones, NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. is informing his constituents of the upcoming implementation of the Paid Family Leave (PFL) initiative he has long championed in the State Senate.

“Beginning this January, employees who are experiencing serious health issues in their families, welcoming an infant into their lives, or dealing with complications associated with military deployments will be better able to balance their needs on the home front with their responsibilities on the work front,” said Addabbo. “The paid family leave program will fully phase in by 2021, when eligible private employees will be able to take a full 12 weeks of job-protected family leave and receive two-thirds of their paychecks.” In January of 2018, the benefit will begin at eight weeks of leave and employees will receive 50 percent of their wages.”

Addabbo noted that the program is being funded through small employee payroll deductions – rising from an average 70 cents a week to $1.40 weekly by 2021 – which relieves the burden on businesses to pay for the leave program. “This will be a win-win situation for working families and individuals who need time off to attend to pressing family matters and for employers who will retain skilled workers following their leave,” he said.

The program is being lauded as the most extensive paid family leave law in the nation, and Addabbo was an early sponsor and champion of PFL legislation that was very similar to the initiative ultimately approved as part of the 2016-2017 New York State Budget.

The state regulations outline the responsibilities of employers and insurance carriers in implementing the program. Private employers must secure Paid Family Leave insurance coverage or self-insure in time to provide coverage on January 1, 2018. The PFL premiums will be funded by employees through their payroll deductions. In addition, the regulations address eligibility, coverage, the phase-in schedule for Paid Family Leave, and more information on how employees, employers and insurance carriers will interact to pay benefits. Addabbo stated he would monitor the implementation of New York’s new PFL law and look for any imperfections or abuses in its application.

To find out more, Addabbo urges interested parties to visit the Paid Family Leave website at www.ny.gov/paidfamilyleave or call the Paid Family Leave helpline at 844-337-6303 with any questions.

OLDEST DEM CLUB IN QUEENS MARKS ANNIVERSARY OF 2016 ELECTION WITH DEBATE NIGHT: On November 8, Powhatan & Pocahontas Regular Democratic Club of Astoria, the oldest Democratic club in Queens, marked the first anniversary of the 2016 election with a debate night featuring two formal debates argued by members of the club. The debates addressed healthcare and free speech. Audience members were invited to contribute questions or comments after each debate before voting on the winners.

“This event is an invitation to local community members to spend the first anniversary of a night that was for many a distressing experience engaging in politics in a fun, constructive way,” said Tim Wilson, who chairs the Programming Committee at Powhatan Democratic Club. “We organized this event, which we hope will be the first in an ongoing series of debates at the club, to create a space where local people can come together to debate the issues. Civic engagement is so much more than voting. It’s reading, writing, calling, attending town halls, protesting – and arguing! Today, we have a lot of political arguments on social media, where they can fray relationships, and not enough in real life, where they can help revitalize our political culture and build community. He encouraged audience members to sign up to debate in the future as well.

The debaters were Andrew Piddoubney, Jesse Rose, Yannis Trittas, Tim Wilson.

The debate was held at Powhatan and Pocahontas Regular Democratic Club, 41-05 Newtown Road, Astoria.

MENG: ELECTION RESULTS ‘HISTORIC WINS’: U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) issued the following statement on last weeks election results.

“With solid, and, in some cases, historic wins in Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Washington, and other local races throughout the country, voters sent a clear message that they’ve had enough. They want jobs, affordable and quality health insurance, immigration reform, gun safety, environmental protections, and a fair tax system that benefits all middle-class Americans. And, most importantly, the majority of Americans are done with the race-baiting and hate that has become increasingly prominent in politics at all levels.

“These wins were a product of organizing, especially in African American, Latino, Asian American and Pacific Islander, and new American communities and the DNC’s investments in these outreach efforts were critical to Democratic victories, including the impressive number of ‘firsts’ who were elected, from Hoboken to Minneapolis.

“Make no mistake – Democrats still have more work ahead in order to rebuild the Democratic Party. We must continue our outreach and organizing efforts. But yesterday’s repudiation of Trumpism moves us further down the path for additional victories, particularly as we enter the critical midterm elections next year.

“I congratulate all the Democratic candidates who were victorious last night and I thank Democrats everywhere for keeping the momentum going.”

CUOMO ANNOUNCES $327 MILLION AVAILABLE FOR HOME HEATING ASSISTANCE: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced on November 7 that applications for home heating assistance will be accepted beginning Monday, November 13 throughout New York State. The Home Energy Assistance Program is making $327 million in federal funding available to eligible older New Yorkers and low- and moderate-income New Yorkers to help cover heating costs.

“As cold winter nights begin to set in, this funding will ensure New Yorkers receive the assistance they need to heat their homes and keep their families safe,” Governor Cuomo said. “By securing this federal funding, residents across the state will no longer be forced to choose between buying food for their loved ones or paying their heating bill. I encourage all eligible New Yorkers to apply for this assistance in order to stay warm this winter season.”

Households that are eligible can receive assistance of up to $726, depending on income, household size, and how the home is heated. A family of four can earn up to $53,482 per year and still qualify for help.

The program is overseen by the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. Applications are accepted at local departments of social services, which can be found by county at www.otda.ny.gov/programs/heap/contacts/.

Anyone living outside of New York City can apply for a regular Home Energy Assistance benefit online at myBenefits.ny.gov, and New York City residents are encouraged to download the application and mail it in.

Additionally, households may qualify for an emergency benefit if they are at risk of getting their heat shut off or running out of fuel. Applications for emergency benefits will be accepted beginning Tuesday, January 2, 2018. Anyone in need of emergency assistance should contact their local department of social services.

Last year, nearly 1.5 million households throughout the state received assistance through HEAP.

POLICE COMMISSIONER O’NEILL ON THE CONVICTION IN MURDER OF DETECTIVE BRIAN MOORE: The murder of Detective Brian Moore reminds us of the extraordinary danger police officers face every day, protecting this city. Brian chose this profession to protect others, to do good, and to serve a cause greater than himself. He was murdered doing his job and in defense of every New Yorker. I thank the investigators and prosecutors who worked this case successfully with personal commitment and resolve. To the public who assisted us along the way: thank you for your help in ensuring that this career criminal is removed from the community and not given the opportunity to cause further harm,” James P. O’Neill, Police Commissioner, New York City Police Department said.

AVELLA BILL WOULD PROTECT CO-OPS, CONDOS FROM SIDEWALK INJURY LIABILITY: NYS Senator Tony Avella announced on November 9 legislation that would remove liability for injuries stemming from the failure to maintain sidewalks for cooperative apartment buildings, condominium buildings, non-profit organizations, and houses of worship.

When the city of New York originally adopted § 7-210 of the administrative code, which outlines these provisions, it exempted the owners of one-, two-, and three-family residential homes from liability for these injuries. The rationale for this exemption rested upon the logic that it was inappropriate to expose small-property owners in residence, who have limited resources, to this category of liability.

This bill seeks to include other small-property owners in residence, as well as those organizations that have limited resources and contribute a great deal to their surrounding communities. Exempting these categories of property owners from liability for injuries stemming from the failure to maintain a city-owned sidewalk will relieve them of another expense of owning property in the City of New York.

“It is inappropriate to expose cooperative and condominium apartment buildings, non-profits, and houses of worship to such liability,” said Senator Avella. “These property owners have limited resources, and it is unfair to burden them with the costs associated with injuries occurring on city-owned sidewalks while other small-property owners in residence are protected,” Avella continued.

“I have always thought that it is inherently unfair for property owners to bear the burden of maintaining sidewalks owned by the city. By including these other categories of property owners, in addition to the owners of one-, two-, and three-family homes, we are creating a fairer system for the city’s property owners,” added Avella.

ADDABBO SALUTES MEMBERS OF ARMED FORCES ON VETERANS DAY: While noting that November 11 is officially Veterans Day across the United States, NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. is reminding all residents that “in reality, every day is Veterans day – an opportunity to celebrate and thank our armed services members for their extraordinary contributions.”

Addabbo, the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs, said, “The fact of the matter is that every single one of us benefits every day from the sacrifices, dedication and bravery of our veterans. We recognize them, respect them, and honor the memory of those courageous men and women who lost their lives in service to our country.”

On Veterans Day, Addabbo thanked all veterans, including those who recently passed away. The Senator also commemorated two very special veterans who passed this year: Gene Burch, the long-time leader and member of American Legion Post 1424, and Paul Narson, who served as President of Queens Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 32. “Both of these fine men were not only proud United States Army veterans, but made significant contributions to our community as well,” he said. “On this Veterans Day, they will be two of many courageous soldiers I will be remembering.”

With the beginning of the 2018 NYS Legislative session only two months away, Addabbo said he looks forward to returning to Albany to work on funding and legislation of importance to New York’s veterans.

“When I return to Albany for the Senate session in January, I will also continue to advocate for three bills I have introduced as prime sponsor, and which passed the Senate earlier this year,” Addabbo said. “In 2018, I hope these initiatives will also receive approval by the State Assembly and ultimately be sent to the Governor’s desk for consideration.” The legislation sponsored by Addabbo would:

 Exempt veterans’ posts from sales and use taxes on the purchase of wine, beer and soda (S.3059);

 Provide a 120-day warning period for veteran posts to fix code violations that are not hazardous or a violation of Alcoholic Beverage Control laws (S.3072); and

 Offer academic credit to veterans at SUNY and CUNY for related military experience (S.3674).

“I look forward to continuing to serve our veterans both in our State Capitol and in the community,” Addabbo said. “On this Veterans Day, and every day, I am appreciative of the bravery, self-sacrifice and love of country demonstrated by these valiant men and women.”

PERALTA LAUNCHES FREE LEGAL SERVICES FOCUSING ON IMMIGRATION AND HOUSING: In the midst of “attacks on hard working and immigrant families in the era of Trump,” the office of NYS Senator Jose Peralta has launched free legal counseling services focusing on housing and immigration. The Senator was able to secure a $50,000 state allocation to the CUNY School of Law’s Community Legal Resource Network to provide qualified attorneys and offer needed services to constituents.

“I am determined to fight Trump and his un-American, anti-immigrant policies that deeply hurt our communities and our hard working families. For the past year, pushing back against ‘Trumpism’ has been at the core of my efforts to defend and protect New Yorkers. Plans to end DACA, build a wall, and executive orders for a travel ban have traumatized many people. It is frightening to see immigrants go about their daily lives with fear in their eyes, and I am not going to tolerate it. This is why, in the era of Trump, I partnered with professionals from the CUNY School of Law to offer free legal services to help my constituents,” said Senator Peralta.

The free legal counseling services include assistance with deportation proceedings, immigration actions taken by the federal government, housing discrimination and tenant harassment, among others. Those seeking free legal consultation are asked to call Peralta’s office and schedule an appointment at (718) 205-3881. All cases will be kept confidential. Attorneys can answer questions, review documents, give legal options on a current problem and explain the law and legal process.

Alizabeth Newman, Int. Executive Director, Alumni Engagement & Initiatives, Community Legal Resource Network at the CUNY School of Law noted that having legal advice and analysis before or during a legal process can make a huge difference in a person’s ability to assert and defend their rights. The attorneys, however, are not able to go to court or take on full representation of cases, as some could take years.

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