Queens Lawmakers On The Move June 5, 2018

Queens County City Council News

Katz, Koo Open Students-Designed Playground At JHS 189 & Flushing International School

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz
City Council Member Peter Koo

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz (D) and City Council Member Peter Koo (D-Bayside, College Point, Flushing, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Fresh Meadows, Whitestone) yesterday joined representatives from MetLife Foundation, The Trust for Public Land, and students and faculty from JHS 189Q and the Flushing International School to officially opened the school’s new, state-of-the-art, green playground to serve the students and surrounding community.

The new $1 million playground will bring 36,000 Flushing residents within a 10-minute walk of a park that includes an artificial turf field, running track, green roof gazebo, outdoor classroom, garden, a grove of trees, bleachers, benches and a handball wall. The new design includes green infrastructure such as the turf field, paving stones, bioswales, trees and garden area that will capture 700,000 gallons of stormwater per year, vastly improving the health of Flushing Creek.

This park is open to the entire community after school hours and on the weekends, and includes features that can be enjoyed by all ages, from children to seniors.

“Queens is pleased to unveil the much anticipated upgrades to JHS189 and Flushing International School’s new, state-of-the-art, student-designed green playground. Thanks to the partnership with Councilmember Peter Koo, the Trust for Public Land and the Met Life Foundation, the growing families of Flushing will be able to thrive in this innovative playground,” said Katz.

“As our community continues to grow, it is important that we seek out new ways to maximize our public spaces and create more livable, family-friendly neighborhoods. This green playground transforms a vacant lot into valuable community amenity that will serve both students and residents for generations to come while helping to reduce the sewage outfalls into the Flushing Creek. I was proud to contribute $200,000 to this project, and I’d like to thank the Trust for Public Land, Borough President Katz, the DOE, SCA and DEP for collaborating so efficiently and completing this project in less than one year,” said Koo.

Since 1996, working with the City, The Trust for Public Land’s NYC Playgrounds Program has designed and/or built 196 school and community playgrounds across the five boroughs. In addition to serving students, all playgrounds in New York City are open to the public on weekends, after school and during school vacations, providing opportunities for both children and adults to be physically active. The program has added more than 150 acres of additional playground space, serving over 3.9 million people who live within a 10-minute walk of one of the sites.

Rozic Announces New Law to Ease Work Schedules for State Employees

Assembly Member Nily Rozic

Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D,WF-Fresh Meadows) and State Sen. Brian Kavanagh (D, WF-Manhattan & Brooklyn) yesterday announced that Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law legislation (A8929/S7296) they sponsored to compile information from state agencies on the feasibility of flexible working arrangements.

The bill is a chapter amendment for legislation signed into law late last year that directs the State Department of Civil Service to perform regular analyses on current programs within state agencies that allow for alternative work schedules and flexible hours.

“As the workplace evolves, it is important that we consider flexible options that benefit both employees and employers,” said Rozic. “I am proud to have worked with Senator Kavanagh on legislation that would make work-life balance more of a reality for many New Yorkers and thank Governor Cuomo for his support on this issue.”

The Rozic/Kavanagh bill amends current law to require the Civil Service Commission to issue a report to the governor and state legislature by September 1, 2018 and every three years after detailing current practices that allow for flexible work arrangements. The analysis would provide a snapshot of the current state of alternative work schedules within state agencies.

Flexible work schedules increase work-life balance, provide personal and family-related flexibility, and may even help reduce rush-hour commuting congestion. California, Iowa, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island and South Carolina all direct state agencies to allow “flextime” schedules for their workers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. This law also requires the New York State Office of Information Technology Services (NYSOITS) to assist with the compilation of data and analysis as needed.

Cuomo Announces Application Now Open For 2018 Carey Gabay Scholarship Program

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) yesterday announced the State University of New York (SUNY) is now accepting 2018 applications for the Carey Gabay Memorial Scholarship.

This scholarship, now in its third year, is in honor of Carey Gabay, an attorney and public servant who was tragically killed as an innocent victim of gun violence in 2015. This program provides full scholarships to five incoming SUNY students who exemplify Carey’s commitment to social justice, leadership, and mentoring, as well as his personal story of succeeding academically despite having an economically disadvantaged background.

“Carey exemplified what it truly means to be a public servant, putting others before himself and striving to make a difference in his community and beyond,” Cuomo said. “Through this scholarship, his legacy will live on by empowering young, talented individuals just like Carey to achieve their goals and create a better New York for all.”

Carey grew up living in public housing and attending public school in the Bronx. After a successful high school career, he went on to graduate from Harvard University and Harvard Law School. He had a longstanding commitment to public service and giving back to those around him, and while at Harvard University, he ran to become the president of his undergraduate student body. In recent years, he worked tirelessly in public service, first as an Assistant Counsel to Governor Cuomo and later as First Deputy Counsel for the Empire State Development Corporation.

The annual Carey Gabay Memorial Scholarship will once again award full scholarships to five students to attend four-year SUNY colleges beginning in the 2018-19 school year. These scholarships will cover all costs of attendance, including tuition, room and board, college fees, books and supplies, and transportation and personal expenses.

Applications are available here and are due on June 302018.

Peralta Announces State Grant To Help Women Access the Legal System      

State Senator Jose Peralta

State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Woodside) yesterday announced that he helped secure a $100,000 state allocation for Her Justice, a nonprofit organization that provides free legal help to women living in poverty in New York City.

Her Justice, in cooperation with volunteer attorneys from law firms across the City, helps thousands of women in family, divorce and immigration matters. All of their immigration clients have been abused by their partners, and seek safe routes to legal immigration status in the United States.

Her Justice and volunteer attorneys under their guidance advise women about their rights and options for applying for legal status in the United States. Some of the most common cases include U Visas, for undocumented women who are victims of crimes and are likely to help in the investigation of the crime; self-petition for battered spouses and children, for survivors of domestic violence who have married citizens or legal residents; and T Visas, for individuals who have been sex trafficked.

“Her Justice is celebrating its 25th anniversary, which means, that we are all celebrating 25 years of success, of supporting women who have been victims of crimes obtain legal immigration status in our nation. These are life-changing visas, not only for at-risk women, but also for their children. Through their work, Her Justice gives back life to many women who have suffered. We must ensure we are able to help victims of gender-based violence, especially under this political climate in which the White House has made attacking our hard-working immigrants a priority. I am glad I was able to secure state funding for an organization that provides critical services to women and children in need,” said Peralta.

Her Justice is a nonprofit organization that takes a ‘pro bono first’ approach to the provision of legal services to low-income women living in poverty across the five boroughs in the City. Its staff includes a legal team composed of a director, 12 staff attorneys and four paralegals. Additionally, more than 80 law firms and corporations provide free legal counsel and other services to the women they assist.

Gianaris, Senate Dems Force Committee Presentation and Vote on Election and Campaign Finance Reforms

State Senator Michael Gianaris

State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside) yesterday joined Democratic colleagues and good government groups to force Republicans on the Senate Elections Committee to hold a committee vote on four bills that would reform New York’s election and campaign finance laws — and to press them to vote in favor of the bills.

“At a time in our country when voting rights are under assault from all corners, New York must live up to its reputation as a progressive leader,” said Gianaris. “Access to the ballot box should be easy and fair. I urge my colleagues to enact these proposals as soon as possible to remove obstacles to voting.”

Gianaris is the sponsor of the S3304, the “Voter Empowerment Act,” which would establish automatic voter registration and online registration, reduce unfair deadlines for registration and party enrollment, and allow 16- and 17-year olds to pre-register to vote.