Queens Lawmakers On The Move April 24, 2018

Queens County City Council News

Vallone Calls on Mayor to Increase Funding for Security Cameras in Schools

City Council Member Paul Vallone

City Council Memeber Paul Vallone (D-College Point, Whitestone, Malba, Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck, North Flushing, Auburndale) yesterday called on Mayor Bill de Blasio for a massive increase in funding aimed at installing new Internet Protocol Digital Surveillance (IPDVS) systems in New York City schools.

Vallone had been strongly advocating for this to be included in the Council’s response to de Blasio’s preliminary Fiscal Year 2019 city budget as he continues to push for improvements to school safety throughout the city.

An IPDVS system allows authorized school officials to view live and archived camera images directly on their computer stations and provides remote viewing capability to authorized personnel from borough and central offices. Out of the over 1700 schools in NYC, only 1,123 have IPDVS, leaving a third of schools without this modern security system. In Vallone’s district, the problem is even worse with 62% of schools lacking IPDVS.

The current Department of Education (DOE) 5 year capital plan for fiscal years 15-19 has $100 million allocated for IPDVS.

“We are about to enter the DOE’s next 5 year capital plan and now is the time to clearly show our commitment to school safety and ensure it remains a top priority. In the greatest city on earth, it is completely inexcusable for a third of our schools, or more, to lack a modern camera system,” said Vallone.

Addabbo, Gianaris Bill targets People Driving With Suspended & Revoked Licenses

Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr.
State Senator Michael Gianaris

State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth, parts of South Ozone Park, Ridgewood, Woodside, The Rockaways).yesterday announced he co-sponsored legislation (S.3299) to impose harsher penalties on unlicensed drivers who seriously injure or kill others as a result of their irresponsible and illegal behavior has been approved by the State Senate.

State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside) is the prime sponsore.

“Every law-abiding pedestrian and responsible motorist in our society deserves to travel our roadways in safety without being victimized by people who drive without licenses and place all of us at risk,” said Addabbo. “When people get behind the wheel knowing full well their licenses have been suspended or revoked – often for good reason – they are committing serious criminal acts. We need to update our laws to make sure the punishments fit the crimes, particularly when innocent victims are severely hurt or lose their lives in the process.”

Under the proposed measure, motorists who seriously injure others when they knowingly drive with suspended or revoked licenses could be charged with vehicular assault in the second degree, a class E felony. Those who drive illegally with suspended or revoked licenses and kill another person could face a new crime of vehicular homicide, a more serious class D felony. A class D felony carries a sentence of up to seven years in prison, while a class E felony may impose up to four years behind bars.

Addabbo noted that 10 percent of all New York crashes are reportedly caused by drivers with suspended or revoked licenses, and that 75 percent of these motorists continue to get behind the wheel illegally.

“We have seen a number of these tragic accidents here in Queens, and I have had constituents reach out to me on strategies to combat unlicensed driving,” said Addabbo. “I hope this bill will receive the consideration it needs and deserves, and ultimately be enacted into law. Too many innocent lives are at risk.”

In December of 2013, Addabbo added, Queens residents witnessed the particularly heart-rending death of eight-year-old Noshat Nahian, a third grade student at PS152 in Woodside. The child was walking to school with his sister when he was struck and killed by a tractor trailer driver operating his vehicle with a suspended license.

Comrie, Richards Laud McCray’s Brothers Thrive Initiative

State Senator Leroy Comrie
City Council Member Donovan Richards

State Sen. Leroy Comrie (D-Jamaica, Cambria Heights, Queens Village, Hollis, St. Albans, Laurelton, Jamaica Estates, Briarwood, Hillcrest, Kew Gardens) and City Council Member Donovan Richards (D-Arverne, Bayswater, Broad Channel, Cambria Heights, Edgemere, Far Rockaway, Howard Beach, Jamaica, JFK Airport, Laurelton, Rockaway Beach, Rosedale, South Ozone Park, Springfield Gardens) yesterday lauded the city’s First Lady Chirlane McCray announcement of Brothers Thrive, a volunteer effort led by black men to promote mental health literacy in their communities.

McCray will spearhead the coalition which brings together six national service organizations to raise awareness about mental illness, substance misuse, and the stigma associated with seeking treatment. Within its first year, Brothers Thrive will work to encourage a more culturally relevant mental health workforce as part of the recently created Mental Health Advisory Group, create safe spaces throughout the boroughs for conversations, support, and strategy building, and leverage the leadership of black men to encourage their networks to be trained in Mental Health First Aid.

“Brothers Thrive represents the same strength we witnessed this past December with Sisters Thrive; unity, collaboration, and impact. Both initiatives mark the first time that a major city has tackled mental health with the collaboration of these notable organizations, and collectively, I believe their partnership will lead to more and better services for African-American, immigrant, and marginalized communities,” said McCray.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, cultural biases can prevent many African-Americans from accessing health care services. A history of inadequate treatment, exploitive testing and a lack of cultural competence by health professionals may explain why today, an estimated one-quarter of African-Americans seek mental health care compared to 40 percent of white Americans. Brothers Thrive will work to encourage a national dialogue that eliminates these significant barriers to treatment.

“I would like to commend New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray and the de Blasio administration for creating the Brothers Thrive imitative to mirror the Sister’s Thrive collaboration founded in 2017,” said Comrie. “Fraternal organizations, and others working to remove the stigma associated with mental health and substance abuse treatment is sorely needed in our community and I look forward to continuing to foster the partnerships necessary to ensure that all who need help can get it and not be ashamed to seek it.”

As the city ramps up its mental and behavioral health awareness efforts, it is critical that we promote the importance of wellness in communities of color,” said Richards.We must break down of all the barriers that are created by the stigma around mental illness and substance misuse to ensure that everyone in need is connected with the necessary services.”

Sanders Rain Barrel Giveaway a Success

Se. James Sanders

State Sen. James Sanders Jr. (D-Rochdale Village, Far Rockaway) joined the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to give away free rain barrels on Saturday, April 21 at Springfield Gardens Park.

Rain barrels capture storm water from your roof and store it for future uses like watering lawns or gardens. Conserving water saves money, helps the environment and reduces the burden on the city’s drinking water system during the summer’s hottest days.

All 104 of the green barrels that were available at the event were distributed. Each weighed about ten pounds and could hold 65 gallons of water. The barrels came with hook up instructions and a Universal Downspout Rain Diverter Kit.

Basically to utilize the barrel, a piece of one’s roof gutter needs to be cut and inserted into the top of the barrel allowing for rain collection, while a hose would be attached to a hole at the bottom of the barrel so that the water can be re-used.

“It was great to see so many residents taking advantage our rain barrel giveaway in Springfield Gardens,” Sanders said. “Reusing rain is a great way to save money on water bills and help the environment.”

Sanders will hold another rain barrel giveaway in June.