Queens Lawmakers On The Move. Jan. 8, 2018

Queens County City Council News

Katz, Queens Boro Board To Hear Select Bus Service Update

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz/via Facebook

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and the Queens Borough Board tonight  will hear an update on the MTA’s Select Bus Service (SBS) initiative tonight.

SBS aims to improve the speed and reliability of bus service through the use of dedicated bus lanes, off-board fare payment and the implementation of traffic signal priority for buses. SBS also aims to improve passenger comfort and convenience with enhanced bus stops that include shelters with seating, lighting and real time bus information.

Currently, there are three SBS routes in Queens: The Q44 that connects the intermodal transit hubs in Flushing and Jamaica, the Q52/Q53 that provides north-south service between Woodside and the Rockaways along Woodhaven and Crossbay Boulevards, and the Q70 that links intermodal transit hubs in Jackson Heights and Woodside to LaGuardia Airport.

The Queens Boro Board is comprised of the borough’s city council members and the chairperson of each Community Board in the borough.

The meeting is open to the public and slated for 5:30 p.m., Tonight, Jan. 8 at Queens Borough Hall, 120-55 Queens Boulevard in Kew Gardens.

Schumer Wants JFK Airport Equipped With High Tech Drug Detection Machines

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) yesterday urged President Trump to immediately sign a recently passed bipartisan bill he helped push that will help cutoff the flow of illicit fentanyl from China, Mexico, and other countries into New York via JFK Airport.

The “International Narcotics Trafficking Emergency Response by Detecting Incoming Contraband with Technology Act,” also known as the INTERDICT Act, will give U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) new hi-tech—and portable—tools and personnel to improve detection capabilities and increase the seizure of illicit fentanyl shipped to the U.S. from abroad through mail and express consignment carriers.

Schumer explained that fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times stronger than heroin, has quickly swept into New York and is wreaking havoc and destroying families across the city and Long Island. According to the New York City Health Department, in 2016, there were 1,374 drug overdose deaths in New York City; fentanyl was found in 44 percent of those overdose deaths. 

“Now that Congress has passed the INTERDICT Act‎, New York is just one signature away from writing a new chapter in the opioid scourge,” said Schumer. “This new law will make sure our ports of entry, field labs and international mail facilities have access to more handheld chemical scanners to test suspicious substances and provide vital real-time data on its source. That means narcotics, like illicit fentanyl, can be quickly detected, identified and seized on the spot—and it means our diligent screening staff is more safe because they will not have to risk their own safety to expose dangerous substances.”

Addabbo Alarmed With DOI Report On Homeless Hotels 

Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr.

State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. (Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth, South Ozone Park, Ridgewood, Woodside, The Rockaways) on Friday expressed shock and deep concern with last week’s Department of Investigation (DOI) report that found the  Department of Homeless Services (DHS) didn’t properly screen hotels across the city for criminal activities before housing homeless families with children there.

Queens has 24 such hotels of the city’s 57 that housed homeless families with children from January through August of 2017. There were 40 total arrests made at the hotels during the investigation period.

“When the DOI released their report on Thursday, showing that the DHS failed to properly vet hotels throughout the city, where DHS housed homeless women and children, for criminal activity, it was both shocking and concerning. I am deeply concerned for not only for the homeless women and children across the city who have had to live in these inadequate hotels where criminal activities have taken place, but for everyone at the hotels and the residents of the surrounding communities,” said Addabbo.

“Potentially exposing vulnerable women and young children to prostitution or drug-related activities can introduce additional risks to an already risky situation. I am glad to hear that DHS has taken action on the DOI’s recommendations laid out in the report, and I hope this can shed light on the need to fix this situation, and finally get the homeless out of hotels.”

Meng Hails FEMA Allowing Houses of Worship to Receive Federal Disaster Funds

U.S. Representative Grace Meng/Facebook

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Bayside, Flushing, Forest Hills, Rego Park, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Maspeth) last week hailed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) policy change allowing houses of worship to receive federal disaster funds, an issue Meng long championed.

The new policy will make churches, synagogues, mosques and temples eligible for disaster aid from FEMA so that they can repair and rebuild from damage caused by natural disasters. Until now, houses of worship have not been allowed to receive such funds even though other private nonprofit organizations – such as schools, zoos, museums, libraries and performing arts centers – have qualified for the assistance.

“This moment has been a long time coming,” said Meng. “Allowing houses of worship to receive FEMA disaster aid was the first major issue I tackled as a new member of Congress in 2013. It was just after Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on the New York Metropolitan area and many houses of worship were barred from receiving the federal aid they needed in order to get back on their feet.”