2018-11-07 / Political Page

I On Politics

OFFICIALS COMMENT ON SYNAGOGUE SHOOTING: For the mass shooting of the congregants and police officers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday, October 27, which killed 11 worshipers and injured 6 others, including 4 police officers, suspect Richard Bowers, 46, has been indicted on 44 federal counts, including hate crimes. The suspect allegedly shot the innocent victims during prayer and raved against Jewish people and immigrants, who he said they were bringing into the country. He was armed with an AR- 15 rifle and several handguns. The following officials, including Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, and Assembly Members David Weprin and Catherine Nolan released the following statements:

District Attorney Richard A. Brown: “I would like to relay our office’s deepest condolences to the families of those killed and the survivors of this horrific attack. Our office works closely with the New York City Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force and we are ready 24/7 to swiftly and thoroughly investigate and prosecute hate crimes that, unfortunately, have become more commonplace in recent times. We simply will not tolerate acts of violence, intimidation, or property destruction, in which people are intentionally targeted because of their race, color, ancestry, national origin, gender, religion or sexual orientation. More than inflicting immeasurable physical and emotional damage to the victims – which is terrible enough – these crimes also imperil the civilized foundations of our democratic society and threaten the safety and welfare of the entire community. A crime against one is a crime against all of us and we need to work together to prevent these crimes from occurring through education and community engagement. Hate crimes must be reported immediately, when they regrettably occur, so that perpetrators are brought to justice. Let us stand in unity with all victims of hate crimes.”

Assembly Member David Weprin: “I was saddened and appalled to learn of the despicable attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh as I ended the Sabbath. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us and murder committed against one group is a murder committed against all humanity. We must stand united against anti-Semitism and all forms of hate. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, families, and Pittsburgh community.”

Assembly Member Catherine Nolan: “In the wake of the tragedy which occurred at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh this weekend, my deepest sympathies are with the families of the victims of this unconscionable act of violence. In the face of such hatred, it is vital that we stand together with the congregation, the first responders, and the entire Jewish community in solidarity and support. I extend my support to the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society as well, in recognition of the work they do for so many. Now more than ever, all of America must try to remain united, and work to meet the challenge of ensuring freedom, safety and peace for everyone.”

CUOMO ANNOUNCES $10M GRANT TO PROTECT NON-PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced on October 30 that the $10 million grant program to help protect New York’s non-public schools and cultural centers, including religious-based institutions, against hate crimes is now accepting applications. Building upon the success of last year’s first round, which provided $14.8 million in grants, the program provides funding to help strengthen security measures and help prevent hate crimes or attacks against these facilities that may be targeted because of their ideology, beliefs or mission. Day care centers, including those that are housed in community centers, and nonprofit cultural museums are also eligible to apply.

Following the deadliest assault on the Jewish community in US history, Cuomo attended an Interfaith Prayer Vigil hosted by Central Synagogue in New York City the evening of his announcement, along with New York interfaith leaders. Additionally, the governor directed that flags on all state government buildings be flown at half-staff until sunset on Sunday, November 4, in honor of the victims of the shootings at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and at a supermarket in Jeffersontown, Kentucky.

“Here in New York, our diversity of races, cultures, religions and beliefs has always been our greatest strength and we need to protect that legacy,” Governor Cuomo said. “Hate crimes have no place in New York and this funding will help those who are targeted due to their ideology, beliefs, or mission, to take additional steps to increase the security of their facilities and keep our communities safe.”

The grant, which is administered by the State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, will provide up to $50,000 in funding for additional security training needs, cameras and state-of-the-art technology, door-hardening, improved lighting and other related security upgrades at each eligible facility. Organizations that operate more than one facility may submit up to three applications for a total request of up to $150,000. Applications for these awards are due by 5 pm on December 19.

The program was announced in October 2017 by Cuomo and first round awards were made earlier this year, providing $14.8 million in funding for 305 projects at facilities across the state. Additionally, the governor established a telephone hotline and text line to report incidents of bias and discrimination, as well as a dedicated Hate Crimes Unit in State Police. A $5,000 reward is also being made available for any information leading to an arrest and conviction for a hate crime. All New Yorkers who have experienced bias or discrimination are encouraged to call DHR’s toll-free hotline at 888-392- 3644 or text “HATE” to 81336. If you want to report a crime or fear for your safety, call 911 immediately.

REPS. REQUEST HEARING ON HOLOCAUST EDUCATION BILL: In the wake of the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) and Dan Donovan (R-NY) formally requested that the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hold a hearing on their bipartisan bill to bolster Holocaust education across the country. The Never Again Education Act (H.R. 5460) was introduced in April. The Never Again Education Act would give educators the tools and training they need to teach about the Holocaust, genocide, and hate.

In their letter to committee Chair Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) the members explained the importance and need for this legislation in light of the October 27 attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue; “On Saturday, October 27, 11 Jews were killed on Shabbat simply for being in synagogue and practicing their faith. This attack is believed to be the deadliest on the American Jewish community in our nation’s history. This is horrific and unconscionable and comes at a time when anti- Semitic incidents and online harassment are on the rise. The Anti-Defamation League reports that anti-Semitic incidents were up 57% in 2017 from the previous year. As we condemn this horrendous attack and the anti-Semitism that caused it, we also must ensure that our children and students understand the dangers of rising anti-Semitism and that they know its history. For if we do not learn from the past, we are doomed to repeat it.”

STATEMENT BY STAVISKY ON FLUSHING HS: NYS State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, a member of the Committee on Education, and ranking member of the Committee on Higher Education is trying to find out what the Department of Education is doing to improve conditions at Flushing High School. She released the following statement: “Twenty-five years ago, Groundhog Day was a popular movie wherein a continuous loop of time, the same day, continued to repeat itself. I get the same feeling about school receivership hearings. Three years ago, Flushing High School was designated a Struggling School and hearings were held annually. I testified or submitted testimony on three occasions. I attended meetings. Over the years, I met with the previous principals. I sent a letter to then-Chancellor Farina last year making several specific suggestions. I never received a response. On August 15, 2018, a briefing was held at Borough Hall, which was attended by my deputy chief of staff. Afterwards I sent a letter to Chancellor Carranza about Flushing HS but never received a response. Executive Superintendent Pendergast came to my district office to introduce himself on Sept. 20, 2018. I gave him a copy of the correspondence. Chancellor Carranza came to my office on October 23, 2018 to meet with me and I gave him copies of the letters that had gone unanswered.

“I still do not know what DOE is doing to help Flushing HS. I do know that Flushing HS is still struggling and I have attended many unproductive meetings with lots of supervisors. I think the students deserve better. As the Court of Appeals’ Chief Judge, Judith Kaye wrote in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit decision, ‘Every child deserves a sound, basic education.’”

MENG ISSUES STATEMENT ON PROPOSED JAIL IN KEW GARDENS: US Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) issued on October 30 the following statement on the proposed jail in Kew Gardens:

“Residents of Kew Gardens and those who live in the surrounding area have expressed reservations about the city’s proposal to redevelop the Queens Detention Complex. As a strong supporter of long-overdue criminal justice reform, I believe the city must listen to the concerns of Kew Gardens residents and those residing in neighboring communities, particularly the concerns pertaining to the area’s infrastructure, traffic and congestion.” Meng added that city officials must also address concerns about the size and scope of the proposed facility and the lack of community input that went into developing this plan. A new jail must not be allowed to adversely impact communities, especially in an already overburdened neighborhood such as Kew Gardens.

KATZ TO HOLD 2020 CENSUS TOWN HALL: Borough President Melinda Katz has announced she is holding a Queens 2020 Census Town Hall on November 13, from 6-8 pm at the Helen Marshall Cultural Center at Queens Borough Hall (120-55 Queens Blvd., Kew Gardens).

Borough President Katz said, “The United States Census impacts everything we do in Queens. It determines how much representation we will have in the US House of Representatives, and how much federal funding we will receive for social programs and infrastructure over the next 10 years.

“The 2020 Census will pose new challenges and raise important questions. For example:

 For the first time, 80% of respondents will be asked to complete the Census form online.

 The potential inclusion of a citizenship question is a deep cause for concern.”

Katz invites everyone to her 2020 Census Town Hall next month.

“We hope you will consider being a part of the borough-wide conversation and effort to ensure a critical, complete count here in Queens. Come learn about the 2020 Census and find out how you can participate in this important outreach effort.”

Katz is committed to ensuring that Queens gets counted. At the town hall, she will announce the launch of her Queens Complete Count Committee. To RSVP, contact queensbp.org/rsvp or 718-286-2661.

ADDABBO: BROAD CHANNEL NEEDS A NEW PS 47: The children who attend PS 47 in Broad Channel have been forced to use a temporary space that has proven to be not so temporary, and NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. wants to see that change.

Addabbo intends to be part of a serious discussion regarding a permanent, more appropriate structure erected for the Pre-K through 8th grade students that attend PS 47. The senator believes having a newer, updated building would be beneficial to the students, faculty and staff of PS 47, and hopefully help increase the size of the school, since the school routinely has only one class per grade. This would benefit the Broad Channel community.

“PS 47 is a hidden gem in Broad Channel, and I want to see the school grow, both in terms of space and class size,” Addabbo said. “It is unfortunate to see sixth graders leave PS 47 for other middle schools because this school doesn’t have the necessary space. I don’t believe it’s right that PS 47 students are deprived of a gymnasium, auditorium, stage and lunchroom, but must use a “multipurpose room” instead. That is unfair to the students and teachers alike. An actual library in the school would be nice too.”

Addabbo wants to see the brand-new building house all of the facilities that the current school is lacking. The school’s current structure is a mix of the original building erected in 1935 and another building constructed in 1992. Poor insulation during the harsh winter months is just one of the school’s current structural issues.

RALLY TO RAISE AWARENESS OF DOT REDESIGN DANGERS: Queens Streets for All, a coalition of residents, businesses, schools, churches and Community Board 2 in Woodside/Sunnyside is organizing a rally for November 18 to bring attention to “the dangers and disruption of business in the aftermath of the DOT’s road redesign on Skillman and 43rd Avenues. The redesign moved forward despite the objections of Community Board 2’s vote on June 7 to reject the plan by a vote of 27-8,” the organization noted.

Traffic congestion on both avenues has increased with many residents and businesses on Skillman and 43rd Avenues now experiencing traffic congestion and frequent honking in the once quiet residential community.

Residents also increasingly fear for their safety, best evidenced by a video posted on Facebook in early October of an FDNY fire engine from Engine 325 & Ladder 163 on 51st Street blocked from making a left turn on Skillman Avenue. Despite its siren blazing, the truck remained blocked by vehicles on a stretch of the avenue that has been reduced to one lane since the installation of the protected bike lane.

Additionally, business is suffering from the changes. “Some of the small businesses on Skillman Avenue are experiencing an 18% loss of revenue as a result of this road diet that was imposed on us. Many of us have put our life savings into our businesses and are now terrified for the future,” said real estate broker Dorothy Raymond Morehead.

The Queens Streets for All Rally will be held on Sunday, November 18 at 1 pm on the corner of 51st Street and 43rd Avenue in Woodside.

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