2019-02-06 / Political Page

I On Politics

GIANARIS’ FIRST DISTRICT OFFICE POP UP IN LIC: NYS Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris announced the first of his “G Mobile” district office pop ups would take place at Cannelle LIC (5-11 47th Avenue in Long Island City) on Thursday, February 7, from 8:00 am to 10:30 am and then from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm.  Members of the community are invited to interface with the senator’s office, seek assistance accessing government, express concerns about issues, and learn about the latest legislative accomplishments from the NYS Capitol.

“I am excited to launch this effort to reinvent the concept of mobile office hours and put the resources of my district office where the public can best access them,” said Sen. Gianaris. “I am proud to lead one of the most accessible, hands-on government offices and will continue to seek new ways to deliver services to our community.”

Additional G Mobile dates and locations will be announced in the coming weeks. Gianaris’ main district office is located at 31-19 Newtown Avenue and is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

A copy of the G Mobile pop-up flyer can be found at bit.ly/2GnD7DJ

NYS SENATE PASSES SIX ANTI-GUN VIOLENCE BILLS: The New York State Senate majority passed major legislation on January 29th to combat gun violence and protect all New Yorkers. The Senate Democrats have been leaders in standing up to the corporate gun lobby, and have offered a series of common sense bills to address the repeated tragedies caused by gun violence.

The historic legislation passed by the Senate Democratic majority includes:

• Extreme Risk Protection Orders: This bill, S.2451 introduced by Senator Brian Kavanagh, allows law enforcement officials, family and household members, and certain school officials to seek a court order requiring a person likely to harm themselves or others to relinquish any firearms in their possession.

• Effective Background Check Act: This bill, S.2374 introduced by Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris, establishes an extension of time up to 30 calendar days for national in-state background checks.

• Bump Stock Ban: This bill, S.2448 introduced by Senator Luis Sepulveda, prohibits the possession of a device that accelerates the rate of fire of a firearm.

• Preventing School Districts from Allowing Teachers to be Armed: This bill, S.101A introduced by Senator Todd Kaminsky, prevents K-12 schools from authorizing anyone other than a security officer, school resource officer, or law enforcement officer to carry a firearm on school grounds.

• Gun Buybacks: This bill, S.2449 introduced by Senator Shelley Mayer, directs the State Police to devise regulations for gun buyback programs so that all buyback programs across the state are operated consistently with uniform best practices.

• Out-of-State Mental Health Records: This bill, S.2438 introduced by Senator Anna Kaplan, will require out-of-state applicants for gun permits to allow New York permitting authorities to review out-of-state mental health records.

Sen. Gianaris said, “Common-sense gun safety reform will save lives, period. Stronger background checks will keep guns away from dangerous people. I am proud to have written some of America’s toughest gun safety laws and to be part of the new New York Senate, which will keep our families and schools safe.”

NYS ASSEMBLY PASSES LEGISLATION TO REDUCE GUN VIOLENCE: On January 29, Assembly Member Braunstein (D-Bayside) announced that he helped pass legislation to prevent and reduce gun violence in New York. The legislative package includes the “red flag” bill, which prevents individuals determined to be a danger to themselves or others from possessing or purchasing firearms; a ban on bump stocks; and establishes a longer waiting period before delivery of a purchased firearm to a person who has not cleared a background check.

“Despite mass shooting after mass shooting, the federal government still refuses to pass common-sense legislation to protect Americans from gun violence,” said Assembly Member Braunstein. “Thankfully, the Assembly and Senate have joined together to protect New Yorkers by preventing dangerous individuals from possessing a gun, banning bump stocks, and extending the waiting period to purchase a firearm.”

Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Rockaway) said, “When will we reach our breaking point? Day after day, children, mothers, fathers and friends are stolen from us because someone who shouldn’t have a gun got their hands on one? We’re living in a time (in which) places we should be able to find refuge and joy – schools, movie theaters, places of worship – are no longer safe. We can’t pretend gun violence is inevitable and there’s nothing that can be done. There are steps we can take. And today, we’re taking them.” She added, “The notion that arming our teachers will result in safer schools is ridiculous. Educators should be armed with knowledge and skills that they’ll impart on our children, not an incredibly dangerous firearm.”

The Assembly once again passed the “red flag” bill, allowing a court to issue an order, known as an extreme risk protection order (ERPO), prohibiting a person who is determined to be a threat to themselves or others from purchasing or possessing a firearm for up to one year. Following an initial hearing, the court may grant a temporary order. At a subsequent hearing, the court may issue a final order which would last for one year.

Another piece of legislation passed by the Assembly & Senate prohibits the possession, manufacture, transport, shipment and sale of devices that accelerate the firing rate of firearms so they operate in a similar manner as machine guns, including bump stocks, trigger cranks, and other rapid-fire modification devices. Under current New York State law, attaching such a device to a firearm is illegal because once attached, the weapon is considered a machine gun. However, there is no restriction on the sale or possession of bump stocks or other similar devices that are not attached to a firearm. This type of firearm modification enabled a single gunman to carry out the deadliest mass shooting in the nation’s history in Las Vegas in October 2017, firing more than 1,100 rounds in approximately 10 minutes and killing 58 people.

Legislation was also passed to establish a waiting period of 30 days – instead of the current three days – before a gun can be sold to an individual who has not cleared a background check. Under current federal law, gun dealers must conduct a background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) before selling a firearm. The NICS system responds with one of three messages – “proceed,” “denied” or “delayed.” While the vast majority of background checks are immediately marked “proceed” or “denied,” transactions that receive a “delayed” response must be completed after three business days if no additional “denied” response is received. In these cases, the FBI continues to investigate whether the person is an eligible purchaser beyond the three-day period even though the person has likely already been sold the firearm.

This dangerous loophole allowed nearly 4,900 prohibited purchasers to access guns in 2017 alone. Dylann Roof, who brutally killed nine people at a church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015, was able to legally purchase the gun he used because of this loophole.

MALONEY’S GUN SAFETY BILLS TO CRACK DOWN ON GUN VIOLENCE: Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), member of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, introduced on January 28th three bills to promote gun safety: The Gun Show Loophole Closing Act, the NICS Review Act, and the Firearm Risk Protection Act.

“If more guns made us safe, we’d be the safest country in the world, but we are far from it,” said Rep. Maloney. “The group of bills I am introducing today will save lives and promote safe gun ownership by closing the gun show loophole, giving law enforcement the tools it needs to go after fraudulent gun purchases by keeping National Instant Background Checks on record for 90 days instead of just the 24 hours currently allowed, and requiring gun owners to carry liability insurance just as we do car owners. It’s time that this country got serious about gun violence and I’m determined to see that we do.”

Gun Show Loophole Closing Act:

Currently, people who buy guns at gun shows are not subject to background checks. This bill would close this loophole and give ATF (the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) the resources and authority it needs to ensure that gun shows do not facilitate dangerous gun sales. It will also make sure that law enforcement knows the details about shows and that records are kept on firearm sales.

The NICS Review Act:

This common-sense bill will make it less likely that guns get into the wrong hands. It would require that the FBI keep all National Instant Background Check System (NICS) records for no less than 90 days after giving gun purchasing approval so that the FBI and ATF have the time they need to review background check records. This simple change would make it more difficult for dangerous individuals to skirt the law and the safeguards we’ve put in place.

Firearm Risk Protection Act:

We need to incentivize responsible gun ownership. This would require gun owners to purchase liability insurance, which will help to ensure they use and store their guns responsibly.

MALONEY ON CBO’S REPORT ON ECONOMIC COSTS OF SHUTDOWN: Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), vice chair designate of the Joint Economic Committee, released the following statement upon the release of the Congressional Budget Office’s report on the costs of the shutdown.

“Today’s report from the Congressional Budget Office makes clear that the Trump Shutdown caused permanent damage to our economy. It reduced economic growth in the fourth quarter of 2018 and first quarter of this year – $3 billion of that lost economic activity will never be recovered.

“In addition, hundreds of thousands of federal workers had their lives turned upside down and millions of Americans couldn’t access government services. All of this was unnecessary.

“I sincerely hope that the president has learned from his mistake. We cannot afford to squander economic growth and he must never again treat federal workers as a bargaining chip in a negotiation.”

MALONEY: ‘JOB GROWTH MASKS PAIN’: Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), vice chair designate of the Joint Economic Committee, issued the following statement after the Department of Labor announced 304,000 jobs were added in January:

“It’s heartening to see continued strong job growth, despite the recent shutdown.  However, the numbers mask the economic pain of 800,000 government workers and many more contractors who had to scramble to pay bills without paychecks, as well as the millions of Americans who were affected in one way or another by the longest government shutdown in history. We won’t know the full impact of the shutdown for some time and the president is making matters (worse) by refusing to take another shutdown off the table.

“At a time when workers’ wages have finally begun to move higher, our focus must be on keeping that progress going. We cannot afford self-inflicted damage from a shutdown and other reckless economic policies. It’s imperative that Congress do as much as possible to create an environment where workers’ wages move up alongside gains in corporate profits and productivity. Promoting competition, boosting the minimum wage, and strengthening worker bargaining power are all actions we should take to boost incomes.”

CUOMO’S BUDGET PROPOSAL PROTECTS STUDENT BORROWERS: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced on February 1st that his fiscal year 2020 Executive Budget includes proposals that would provide sweeping new protections for student loan borrowers. The protections require companies servicing student loans held by New Yorkers to obtain a state license and meet standards consistent with the laws and 93 regulations governing other significant lending products, such as mortgages. This is the latest step in Cuomo’s historic commitment to protecting the approximately 2.8 million student loan borrowers in New York state.

“Millions of students in New York have tens of billions of dollars in loans serviced by approximately 30 student loan servicers, yet these servicers are not licensed or regulated by the state,” Governor Cuomo said. “The student loan servicer industry has repeatedly raised serious consumer protection concerns that need to be addressed, and with this proposal, we will provide sweeping new protections for borrowers and help crack down on unscrupulous lending practices.”

The governor’s proposal will ensure no student loan servicer can mislead a borrower or engage in any predatory act or practice, misapply payments, provide credit reporting agencies with inaccurate information, or any other practices that may harm the borrower. The proposal will also ban upfront fees, require fair contracts and clear and conspicuous disclosures to borrowers, and provide penalties for failing to comply with the law.

Since taking office in 2011, Cuomo has been a leading voice in protecting access to higher education, most notably through the first in the nation Excelsior Scholarship, a program that allows eligible full-time students to attend a SUNY or CUNY two-year or four-year college tuition-free. The governor has also been a champion for increasing protections for the approximately 2.8 million student loan borrowers in New York. Additionally, Cuomo created the Get on Your Feet Loan Forgiveness Program that provides up to 24 months of federal student loan debt relief to recent NYS college graduates who make $50,000 or less a year.

JOINT CONGRESSIONAL STATEMENT ON HUD, NYCHA AGREEMENT: Congress Members Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Gregory W. Meeks, (D-NY), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Grace Meng (D-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) released the following joint statement regarding an agreement reached between the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and the New York City Housing Authority:

“We are certainly relieved that NYCHA, the city’s largest landlord and home to 400,000 of our most vulnerable neighbors, will not fall under complete control of the Trump administration’s HUD. As this administration has repeatedly proposed slashing funding for the public housing operating and capital funds, we share our constituents’ concerns that the current administration’s hostility to public housing makes it a bad fit to assume day-to-day oversight of NYCHA. All that being said, there must be additional accountability and transparency at NYCHA, so that the agency once again becomes responsive to tenants’ needs. We are hopeful that a federal monitor can help achieve that goal. We will certainly be watching that process closely and providing vigorous congressional oversight.

“Of course, improving public housing in New York will require significant investment at all levels of government. We recognize the mayor and the city have already dedicated substantial funding and are committing more under the terms of this deal. Following decades of shortchanging the agency, still more must be done. In Washington, we will be fighting for additional federal dollars in the years to come. Similarly, the governor and the state government will need to step forward. This must be a priority at every level of government. [We] will be keeping a close watch on how this plan is implemented.”

Rep. Maloney (NY-12), member of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development, and Insurance, said, “The most important priority of any agreement must be immediate improvements to the welfare of NYCHA’s 400,000 residents. For decades, New Yorkers living in public housing have been forced to live in third world conditions as NYCHA grossly mismanaged its properties with little worry about consequences and the federal government deliberately disinvested in public housing. As a result, the health and safety of hundreds of thousands of people has been put at unacceptable risk.” Maloney added that this agreement additionally “creates clear deadlines for NYCHA to remediate lead, heat, pests, elevator, and mold problems.”

In December, Velázquez led Democratic members of the New York City congressional delegation in writing to HUD Secretary Carson, arguing against federal receivership for NYCHA.

Council Member and candidate for public advocate Eric Ulrich applauded creation of a NYCHA monitor: “The de Blasio administration has consistently failed the residents of NYCHA. Independent monitoring is long overdue, along with management reforms and emergency repairs. Mayor de Blasio has without a doubt been NYC’s worst landlord, and NYCHA residents deserve better. We cannot allow the mayor to mislead New Yorkers about the deplorable conditions in public housing, nor will we stand idly by as he lies about the reasons for his careless neglect. I applaud the federal government for its bold action, and I’m optimistic that the new monitor will do a better job than the mayor, who has proven to be incapable of making things right.”

‘AMAZON DEAL EXACERBATES INCOME INEQUALITY’ –VAN BRAMER: NYC Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer strongly opposes Amazon HQ2 setting up shop in Long Island City. He explained why in the following statement he gave during the NYC Council Committee on Finance’s Amazon HQ2 finance hearing:

“At a time when we should all be concerned with income inequality, we are confronted by a deal that literally takes billions in hard earned tax dollars paid by janitors, teachers and bus drivers only to give it to a man worth $160 billion (Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos). And yet we often hear there isn’t enough money for mass transit, schools, libraries and parks.

“Now quite recently in a speech Mayor de Blasio spoke about this very dilemma. He said: ‘We actually do have the money to solve the problems, and I know where the money is. This country has spent decades taking from working people and concentrating the wealth in the hands of the ‘One Percent.’ That’s where the money is.’ He added, ‘There’s plenty of money in this country – it’s just in the wrong hands.’

“Which brings us to the Amazon deal, an over $3 billion corporate giveaway of taxpayer dollars to make the richest of the rich even more rich. The mayor and the governor signed off on this deal. I will not. The City Council has not. The question I have been asking myself is how much is too much? In a world where so many are hungry at night, cold all day, and unable to afford a doctor when they inevitably get sick, how can so much wealth be concentrated in one person’s hands. And how do the city and state celebrate a deal that exacerbates income inequality?”

NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who has been outspokenly critical of the Amazon deal, said the City Council “as a body has not yet determined whether the deal is a good deal or not a good deal for the city.” Johnson noted that the City Council put together its own report on how to look at what’s on the table “before signing the dotted line.”

The city Economic Development Corporation (EDC) and Empire State Development summary states that the city stands to gain $13.9 billion over 25 years, and $27 billion in total for the whole state, a 9:1 return on $3 billion tax-break for the project, including 25,000 to 40,000 jobs, according to Amazon estimates. But the City Council report observed that the EDC’s tax revenue estimate was based on 40,000 new jobs being created, while its cost analysis used the lower 25,000 number, inflating the gain while underestimating the costs to the city.

Council Member Daniel Dromm, chair of the Council Finance Committee said, “Neither evaluation accounted for any cost of impacts accommodating Amazon’s growth in the city. People will need to be housed, educated, transported and protected. How much will that cost?”

‘IF AMAZON IS ANTI-UNION, THEY ARE NOT WELCOME’ –VAN BRAMER: NYC Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer (District 26) released the following statement, “Dear Friends, On Wednesday, the NYC Council held our second hearing on the Amazon HQ2 deal. What we learned was disturbing. Amazon executives made it clear that they would oppose attempts to unionize among its workers in NYC. They refuse to be neutral when unions seek to organize and are proud to declare that no Amazon employees are part of a union. I believe that is fundamentally wrong and against our #QueensValues. And I let them know it.

“NYC is a union town. And big corporations like Amazon that are rapidly growing and anti-union are part of the problem because they are increasing the pool of workers who are not unionized. ALL workers have the right to be in a union, including those who work at Amazon’s fulfillment center in Staten Island and those who would work at HQ2 in LIC. Unions have always been the great equalizer – a vital tool for working people to come together and bargain collectively against corporate power and greed.

“Growing up, my family didn’t have much money. My stepfather was a janitor at JHS 10 in Astoria. Mom worked at supermarkets. Dad was a pressman. ALL were in unions. How dare Amazon come here and declare war on workers?! I’m proud to help lead this fight with the hard-working people of organized labor. We are #UnionStrong!

“This Amazon debacle must be an inflection point for our society, where we reign in corporate welfare and the billionaire class and give more power to the people who have the least among us. We’ve got to rethink how we go about economic development deals. We need to invest in our local community and its workers, not the largest corporations.

“Together, we can win this fight.”

GIANARIS URGES MORE TRAIN STATION ACCESSIBILITY: NYS Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris renewed his call for the MTA to prioritize station accessibility in light of the recent tragedy involving a young mother who fell to her death. She was carrying her baby in a stroller down the stairs when she fell. The report paints a stark picture of New York’s worst-in-the-nation record, with fewer than 25% of stations being accessible to passengers with disabilities, seniors, parents with strollers and other mobility-impaired New Yorkers. Gianaris’ report was initially issued in July, marking the 28th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“It is unacceptable and embarrassing for New York to be worst in the nation in subway accessibility. We now have a tragedy that could have been avoided if better choices were made by the MTA,” said Sen. Gianaris. “For New York to thrive, it must have an MTA for All, where everyone can access the subway system to get to work, school and around our city.”

Research conducted by Gianaris shows the least accessible major subway line is the G train, which only has a single station that is accessible in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Less than one-quarter of the entire New York City Transit (NYCT) subway system is compliant with the law, which is nearly three decades old.

In the report, Gianaris shows that NYCT is the least accessible subway system in the nation. According to statistics from the National Transit Administration, New York’s subway rates last among major city rail systems. With a 53% accessibility rate – nearly double that of NYCT – the New York-New Jersey PATH train and Philadelphia’s PATCO are the next least accessible. The most accessible systems include Washington DC’s WMATA, where 100% of their 91 stations are ADA-accessible.

Gianaris’ full report on accessibility can be viewed at bit.ly/2GcPLFa.

An MTA spokesperson announced they were planning to add 50 elevators to the system within the next five years.

GET A FREE SMOKE ALARM THROUGH AMERICAN RED CROSS CAMPAIGN: After meeting with members of the American Red Cross, NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. is teaming up with the organization to bring free smoke alarm installations to his Senate district.

Every day, seven people die in a home fire, and the American Red Cross’ Sound the Alarm Campaign aims to reduce those numbers by installing 100,000 free smoke alarms throughout the United States.

“Learning that there are seven people who die each day due to home fires was really eye opening for me,” Sen. Addabbo said. “To be able to join the American Red Cross for their Sound the Alarm Campaign and bring free smoke alarms to my constituents will hopefully save lives from a needless tragedy.”

To register for a free smoke alarm installation, visit www.goo.gl/forms/5ThSc0BY5o to select a date, time, and make an appointment.

MALONEY, WAGNER’s BILL TO RENEW DNA TESTING GRANT: Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), author of the Debbie Smith Act, joined with Congress Member Ann Wagner (R-MO) to introduce the Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act of 2019. This legislation will reauthorize the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program which provides much-needed resources to state and local law enforcement agencies to conduct forensic analysis of DNA evidence collected from crime scenes, including untested rape kits.

“The Debbie Smith Act has been called the most important anti-rape legislation ever signed into law for good reason; no rape survivor should be made to wait for justice because their local police precinct doesn’t have the resources to test their rape kit,” said Rep. Maloney. “This grant program is vital for local law enforcement and victims of crime across the country. We need to reauthorize this program so that precincts have the resources to process and match DNA evidence, including sexual assault kits, quickly and accurately. The resources from this grant program have enabled law enforcement to make 192,000 DNA matches in criminal cases since 2005. I’m very proud of what this program has accomplished, and I hope that Congress will act quickly to reauthorize it for another five years.”

“Too many victims of sexual assault never get the justice they deserve,” said Rep. Wagner. “DNA evidence is often the only way to find and convict abusers, but there is an appalling backlog for processing DNA samples across the country.”

“This funding is critically important to supporting the work of DNA analysts at crime labs throughout the country,” said Debbie Smith, sexual assault survivor for whom the legislation is named. “Testing the evidence tells victims that we care, that their case is important enough. That they are important.”

“There are many, many victims out there who are waiting for justice, as I did. Waiting for evidence to be tested, while their attacker remains free further victimizes survivors and their families,” said Natasha Alexenko, a rape survivor from New York and founder of Natasha’s Justice Project.

MENG SECURES SEAT ON APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY: Congress Member Grace Meng (D-Queens), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, announced on January 28th that she has secured a seat on the panel’s Subcommittee on Homeland Security.

The Appropriations Committee is responsible for funding every federal agency, program, and project within the United States government, and the Homeland Security Subcommittee has jurisdiction over the US Department of Homeland Security.

The subcommittee is crucial to New York, helping to ensure that critical homeland security funds are allocated to New York City. The panel also plays a critical role in overseeing US immigration enforcement policies.

“New York City is the top terrorist target in the nation,” said Congress Member Meng. “Our brave law enforcement professionals, such as the NYPD, work nonstop to keep our city safe. It is critical that they have the funds they need to protect New Yorkers, and as a member of the subcommittee, I will fight tirelessly to ensure that NYC receives these vital resources. I will also push for rigorous oversight of the immigration enforcement policies implemented by President Trump that the Department of Homeland Security carries out.”

In addition to the Homeland Security Subcommittee, Meng will continue serving on two other key Appropriations subcommittees: the Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations (which sets funding levels for the State Department and foreign operations) and the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (which determines the budget for the US Department of Commerce, Department of Justice, and science policies and initiatives).

CONSTANTINIDES ANNOUNCES ENDORSEMENT FOR KONST FOR PA: Nomiki Konst received a major endorsement on January 29th in her bid to become New York City’s next public advocate, and outlined specific steps she would take to protect New Yorkers from the dire effects of climate change.

Council Member Costa Constantinides (District 22) announced his support for Konst’s campaign, describing her as “a dynamic, progressive, and inspiring advocate who will fight for marginalized New Yorkers with the same tenacity she did as a truth-seeking reporter.”

“I am proud to support Nomiki – an ally in the fight against climate change, a constituent, and a fellow Greek American leader – because I know she will be a beacon of light for the voiceless,” Constantinides said.

“Getting the support of Councilman Constantinides is a great honor,” Konst said. “I’m proud that as my councilman he has emerged as one of the nation’s boldest and most progressive leaders on issues related to climate change.”

Among his many environmental initiatives, Constantinides has introduced bills to reduce greenhouse gas levels in the city, reduce the carbon output by large buildings, and require health inspections of city water tanks.

During a news conference on January 29th outside the Con Ed power plant in Astoria, Konst pledged her support for:

• Creating a city-owned electric utility, as a path to reaching 100% renewable-energy usage by 2030

• Investing in a fully functioning mass transit system so that ridership can expand and CO2 (carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping gas) emissions are reduced

• Requiring all new construction projects to be zero-carbon

• Imposing penalties on the use of imported, fracked gas

• Allowing green roofs on any buildings that can host them, and adding green roofs on schools, hospitals, libraries, and post offices

• Banning plastic bags citywide and exploring ways to reduce the ecological impact of plastic on the city’s environment.

New Yorkers will go to the polls to choose the next public advocate on Tuesday, Feb. 26th. The election is non-partisan. Konst, a former investigative reporter, national surrogate for US Senator Bernie Sanders and Democratic socialist, is on the ballot under the Pay Folks More party line.

‘SURVIVORS OF CHILDHOOD SEX ABUSE DENIED JUSTICE TOO LONG’: Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-South Queens) announced that she helped pass the Child Victims Act to allow more victims of childhood sexual abuse to face their abusers in a court of law (A.2683). The bill extends the civil and criminal statutes of limitations, as well as institutes a one-year “look-back window” during which past victims will be able to seek justice in court.

“Childhood sexual abuse is an indescribably traumatizing experience that can take a lifetime to come to terms with,” said Assembly Member Pheffer Amato. “In many cases, it can take many years for a survivor to be ready to confront their abuser. While we cannot erase what happened, we can give power to victims and help them move forward with their lives without letting the perpetrators of these unthinkable crimes off the hook.”

More than 63,000 children are sexually abused each year – and that only includes the number of cases that are actually reported. Unfortunately, many criminals go uncharged, as the majority of perpetrators are known to the child, in a position of power and may even reside in the home. Many victims of sexual abuse carry their trauma with them for the rest of their lives and are more likely to struggle with drug abuse, experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and contend with severe depression. It’s imperative that those who were taken advantage of as children now have the protection and support they need to recover and hold perpetrators accountable, noted Pheffer Amato.

The Assembly bill extends the statute of limitations for criminal cases, allowing them to be commenced until the victim turns age 28 for felonies and age 23 for misdemeanors. Under current law, cases for the most serious sex offenses can already be commenced at any time. The bill would also push back the statute of limitations to permit civil actions to be brought until the victim’s 55th birthday. Further, the measure creates a one-year window for adult survivors to commence civil cases that, under current law, are barred because the statute of limitations has expired.

MALONEY TO DEVOS: CHANGE TO TITLE IX IS CRUEL, WRONG: Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) submitted a public comment on January 30th to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos against the Department of Education’s new proposed rule for Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 which would threaten the civil rights, safety and well-being of countless college students, Maloney said. The Congress member urged DeVos to withdraw the rule.

In her public comment, Congress Member Maloney states, “Instances of sexual harassment and assault are rising in our elementary and secondary schools and institutions of higher education. Instead of trying to reverse the trend by taking action to reduce harassment and assault, the department is trying to limit the number of investigations of sexual assault and harassment by increasing legal and procedural thresholds needed to bring a case forward. The department is in effect attempting to define these acts out of existence and sweep these problems under the rug. This is cruel, wrong and a dereliction of duty that would leave a permanent stain, not only on the department’s history, but on our country’s history as well.”

For the full text of the public comment, visit maloney.house.gov/media-center/press-releases.

INCREASED SEXUAL ASSAULTS AT MILITARY ACADEMIES: US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand released the following statement on the new Pentagon report showing that sexual harassment and assault at the three military service academies have significantly increased, despite promises of zero tolerance from military leaders:

“Despite years of promises from the Pentagon to eliminate sexual harassment and assault from the service academies, this new report shows that unwanted sexual contact has increased by a staggering 47% in the last two years. Despite this alarming number, most survivors still are not reporting assaults to the authorities – a clear sign that they do not feel confident in the military’s ability to adjudicate and prosecute these crimes without retaliation. Military leaders at all levels, including at our service academies, must take this problem seriously. The answer to this scourge can’t be the same answer we get every year of ‘give us more time,’ it’s taking action. We must stand up for survivors and fight sexual assault in the military with everything that we have, which is why I continue to urge my colleagues to join me in supporting the bipartisan Military Justice Improvement Act.”

ADDABBO’S NEW COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS, LEADERSHIP POST: NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. has been appointed to serve as majority deputy whip for the Democratic Conference during the 2019 legislative session. The Senator has also been named to serve as Chair of the Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, as well as being placed on the Aging, Children & Families, Civil Service & Pensions, Education, Veterans Homeland Security & Military Affairs committees and the Domestic Animal Welfare subcommittee.

“I am honored to be given this important leadership position in the majority conference. I want to thank Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins for her confidence in me. My role as majority deputy whip presents me an opportunity to be even more involved in the introduction and passage of legislation that will improve the lives of all New Yorkers,” said Sen. Addabbo.

“I’m very excited to serve on seven committees, all of which deal with issues that are critically important to my constituents,” Addabbo said. “These assignments will ensure I continue to be directly involved with decision-making when considering legislation. Advocating for senior citizens, working families, children, and our state’s veterans has always been of utmost importance to me. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on all of these vital committees.”

The Senator then concluded, as chair of the Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, “With the start of the budget negotiations, I am looking forward, towards raising revenue and educational funding through the potential of creating sports betting in our state.”

KATZ RECEIVES FIRST BUILDING TRADES ENDORSEMENT: Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, running for Queens district attorney, has received her first endorsement from the building trades, earning the support of IUEC (International Union of Elevator Constructors) Local One. Katz continues to grow her coalition of support from across Queens. IUEC Local One joins the New York Hotel Trades Council (HTC) and over 300 leaders from across the borough.

“IUEC Local One is excited to endorse Melinda Katz to be the next Queens DA. Melinda has been a trusted ally to workers throughout her career, and she has a real plan to prioritize workers’ safety, protect workers’ rights to organize, and end wage theft. I urge all of our members to support her,” IUEC Local One Business Manager Lenny Legotte.

“I am proud to have the support of Queens’ own IUEC Local One. Their members and working families across Queens make up the backbone of our borough. As Queens DA, I will make workers’ rights a priority of my administration so that all Queens workers are safe, paid fairly, and treated respectfully on the job,” said Katz.

IUEC Local One is made up of 3,000 members that live and work in New York City, Westchester, Rockland, Long Island, and New Jersey. It was chartered in 1884 and its members specialize in installing, servicing, repairing and modernizing elevators, escalators and other conveyances.

When Katz launched her campaign in December, she highlighted workers’ safety as an area of concern. She has committed to assigning an investigator to every workplace accident that results in a serious injury, including license surrender in plea deals, and using seized assets to support workplace safety training. More information can be found at melindakatz.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/KATZ-FOR-DA.pdf

WORKSHOP SERIES FOR MINORITY AND WOMEN BUSINESS OWNERS: On January 29th New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer announced a year-long series of workshops designed to increase access to contracting opportunities for minority and women-owned business enterprises (M/WBEs) and ensure all New Yorkers have an equitable chance to earn business from the City’s multi-billion dollar procurement budget. While City agencies are making important strides in delivering contracts to M/WBEs, major gaps remain. A report released by the Comptroller’s office last year revealed the City awarded only $1 billion in contracts to M/WBEs out of a $19.3 billion budget in FY18 – just 5.5 percent of the total budget. The report also found that a full 80 percent of M/WBEs did not receive any business from the City in FY18. Stringer’s M/WBE University will bring in representatives from major companies and connect M/WBEs to opportunities in fields such as accounting and banking within the Comptroller’s Office. In collaboration with Microsoft, M/WBEs will also have the chance to learn about providing the City with key technology services such as cloud computing. And for the first time, Comptroller Stringer’s series will offer market analysis webinar trainings for agencies and M/WBEs. Both agencies and M/WBEs will learn about the City’s progress in spending, strategies to address market trends, industry demographics, and clientele that fit their services through Checkbook NYC and other resources.

The list of workshops include: February 28th: Win Your Next Contract and Get Paid; March 22nd:  Become a Prequalified NYC Auditor for CPAs Only; April 3rd: Accelerate the Digital Transformation of NYC; May 23rd: Become a NYC Depository Bank & Receive Tax Breaks; August 2nd:  Doing Business with the Comptroller’s Office; December 6th: The Future of M/WBEs in NYC. “New York City is one of the most diverse cities in the world, and yet our own government fails to make fairness a priority when it comes to spending city dollars,” said Comptroller Stringer. “With the Comptroller’s M/WBE University, we’re building on our office’s work to develop innovative solutions that expand opportunities for all New Yorkers. This is about equity and inclusion – and helping these companies build real wealth across communities. If we’re going to have a true five-borough economy, we have to ensure everyone has a fair shot at earning City business.”

Since taking office, Comptroller Stringer’s Office of Diversity Initiatives has evaluated each City agency’s spending with M/WBEs in an effort to drive the City to improve its spending with diverse firms, and hold agencies accountable when they fail to do so. This announcement follows Comptroller Stringer’s call for the City Charter Revision Commission to establish a Chief Diversity Officer in each City agency and in City Hall. The Comptroller has called on all New Yorkers to sign a petition asking the Commission to put diversity and inclusion on the November 6th ballot.

The Office focuses on assisting minority- and women-owned businesses successfully compete for public and private sector procurements which will enable them to grow, and on launching initiatives that put diversity at the heart of the way the City does business. To see the schedule of Comptroller’s M/WBE University events and RSVP, visit comptrollerdiversity.eventbrite.com/ or email diversity@comptroller.nyc.gov. Interpretation services and other special accommodations can be arranged by calling (212) 669-3916. To receive a one-on-one market analysis, email diversity@comptroller.nyc.gov or call (212) 669-3916.

PHEFFER AMATO’S BILL REQUIRES FINANCIAL EDUCATION: Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-South Queens), introduced a bill on January 29th that would require school districts to provide curriculum for grades four through eight in financial management. The bill would include, but would not be limited to, basic financial literacy, budgeting, saving, credit, debt, insurance, investment, and other issues associated with personal financial responsibility. The bill was submitted in the NYS Assembly by Pheffer Amato and has yet to be assigned to a committee.

“Financial literacy is an extremely beneficial tool in improving financial capability for young people.  Many students are unprepared and uninformed regarding financial choices as they transition into adulthood,” said Assembly Member Pheffer Amato. “By incorporating lessons about financial responsibility, students can learn different aspects of finance management and feel empowered about their own financial futures.”

“To disrupt educational inequity, we must construct systems that build our communities from the bottom up... As students are taught basic skills to grow their proficiency in Reading, Writing and Math, they must also be taught foundational skills to enhance their competency in Financial Literacy,” Phoebe Grant-Robinson, principal of PS 253 and founder of Rockaway Leaders Alliance (RLA), said. “Initiating this work in upper elementary school is an explicit recognition that all students regardless of access must gain exposure to Financial Literacy education.”

If the bill is passed into law, it would take effect the first of July following the passage.

CONSTANTINIDES ANNOUNCES SOLAR PANELS FOR DISTRICT SCHOOLS: NYC Council Member Costa Constantinides (District 22) joined with members of the de Blasio administration, educators, and Astoria community leaders on January 30th to announce solar panels will be installed at six Council District 22 schools within the next two years.

Council Member Constantinides, chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection said, “Students will be able to see how renewable energy directly improves their daily lives, empowering these future leaders to understand the needs of powering a city in the 21st century.”

“Climate change is real and it won’t wait. As a result of this and our larger energy management program, we are helping to cut the city’s carbon footprint, in line with Mayor de Blasio’s goal to slash greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050 (and) we are helping the kids in those schools learn about climate change,” said DCAS Commissioner Lisette Camilo.

Along with its the allocation to IS 141, DCAS also funded panels at PS 151, Junior High School 10, and IS 126. Constantinides and Speaker Johnson allocated the funds for PS 171 in Astoria; Borough President Melinda Katz and Constantinides secured money for solar panels at PS 122. SCA will install the solar panels on school rooftops over the next two years, with work expected to begin this summer. Each school will have a monitor that shows how much renewable energy is created as well as the share of greenhouse gases emissions prevented and how much fossil fuel was not burned at the location. IS 141 is estimated to save 31 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year, which is equal to powering 3.9 million smartphones.

New York City is committed to a 1-gigawatt solar capacity by 2030, which is enough energy to power 250,000 homes, and has more than quadrupled its infrastructure since 2014.

Phasing out dirty fossil fuels in favor of less expensive, renewable energy not only improves air quality, but reduces operational costs for schools. Powering K-12 schools is the second-highest cost nationwide for the education industry, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Assembly Member Aravella Simotas, Council Speaker Corey Johnson and others applauded the effort.

PHEFFER AMATO ANNOUNCES HPD OUTREACH EVENT: Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Queens) announced that she will host, in conjunction with the Housing Preservation Department (HPD), three HPD Outreach Vans throughout the 23rd Assembly District.  The outreach events will help individuals prepare to apply for affordable housing, help to understand rights and responsibilities as a tenant, file a housing complaint, and much more.

“Housing Resources are vital, and these outreach events help to bring information and services to neighborhoods who need it most. I hope everyone takes advantage!” said Assembly Member Pheffer Amato.

The HPD Outreach Van is free and open to the public. For more information contact Pheffer Amato’s office at 718-945-9550 or amatos@nyassembly.gov.

• February 13th, 11 am to 2 pm, HPD Outreach Van will be at Beach 86th Street and Rockaway Beach Blvd.

• February 20th, 11 am to 2 pm, HPD Outreach Van will be near Ozone Park Library on Woodhaven & Rockaway Blvd.

• February 27th, 11 am to 2 pm, HPD Outreach Van will be near the Wave Crest Shopping Center

PHEFFER AMATO: LET TEACHERS TEACH: Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Rockaway Beach) announced that she passed legislation to remove the mandate that state-created or administered assessments be used for teacher and principal evaluations, allowing local school districts to adopt evaluation systems best suited to their community’s needs (A.783).

“Every kid learns differently, and we need to empower the people who are actually in the classroom to figure out how to meet their needs,” Assembly Member Pheffer Amato said. “The best educators focus on the child in front of them, not the next standardized test. We need to get the emphasis back on learning.”

The legislation makes critical corrections to the teacher evaluation system. First, it would eliminate the mandate that students’ performance on state-created or administered assessments, including the grades 3 through 8 English Language Arts (ELA) and math tests, be used to determine a teacher’s or principal’s evaluation. The state mandate, which sparked widespread anger, was put on hold in December 2015 for four years.  Pheffer Amato is hopeful that the bill she passed will help allow teachers to craft lesson plans that are most effective for their students, rather than following a cookie-cutter approach that could leave some of our young learners behind.

Under the bill, the state Commissioner of Education would be required to promulgate regulations providing alternative assessments for districts that choose not to use state assessments. The selection and use of assessments would be subject to collective bargaining. All teachers would be required to have a student learning objective (SLO) consistent with a goal-setting process determined or developed by the commissioner. The legislation would also make permanent the provision prohibiting grades 3 through 8 ELA and math state assessments from being included on a student’s permanent record.

“This change is long overdue,” Pheffer Amato said. “High-stakes standardized tests should not be hanging over the heads of our children or teachers. It’s time to truly let teachers concentrate on the young minds they’re helping mold and inspire.”

PHEFFER AMATO ANNOUNCES NALOXONE TRAINING: Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Queens) announced that in conjunction with the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services she will host a free naloxone training session at the Peninsula Queens Library, 92-25 Rockaway Beach Blvd., Rockaway Beach, on February 21st at 6:00 pm. This session will teach participants how to recognize, respond to, and reverse an opioid overdose using Naloxone.

The training session is free and open to the public. Registration for the event is required. Participants must be at least 16 years of age. For more information or to register, contact Pheffer Amato’s office at 718-945-9550 or amatos@nyassembly.gov.

“This training program – along with the increased funding provided in the state budget to fight this addiction crisis – will help provide life-saving prevention, treatment and recovery services for local communities here in Queens,” Pheffer Amato said. “I encourage residents to attend.”

The location, date and time of the session is as follows:

• February 21st, 6:00 pm: Peninsula Queens Library 92-25 Rockaway Beach Blvd., Rockaway Beach


—With contributions by Annette Hanze Alberts

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