Queens Lawmakers On The Move June 7, 2018

Queens County City Council News

Vallone Bill Mandating Animal Shelters In Every Borough Set For Council Approval

City Council Member Paul Vallone

City Council Member Paul Vallone (D-Alley Pond Park, Bay Terrace, Bayside, College Point, Douglaston, East Elmhurst, Flushing, Fresh Meadows, Little Neck, Whitestone) announced yesterday that at long last his bill setting a July 1, 2024 as a legal requirement for the building of a full service animal shelter in each of the five boroughs is set to get full city council approval.

That after the council’s Committee on Health approved it earlier this week and it it is expected to come up for a full council vote at their next stated meeting.

Since 2011, Queens and the Bronx have been left with only “receiving centers” which do not provide shelter or medical care for homeless animals, nor do they provide a lost and found for lost pets. Animals brought to these receiving centers in Queens and the Bronx must be transported to a full service shelter in the other boroughs. The continued absence of these shelters has placed insurmountable pressure on the existing facilities which already operate at maximum capacity. In the end, homeless animals are the ones that face the consequences of this pressure as many otherwise healthy pets are lost to euthanasia.

Since introducing this bill five years ago, much progress has been made through Vallone’s advocacy. In 2016, he secured $10 million in capital funding from Mayor de Blasio for the land acquisition and design necessary for two new state-of-the-art full service shelters in Queens and the Bronx.

Earlier this year, de Blasio announced that the administration would be moving forward with the construction of a Bronx shelter and revealed its location, in addition to allocating $27.3 million to upgrade the Brooklyn shelter. In April, the Administration announced that the Queens receiving center would be moving to a larger location as a temporary setup while they continue to search for a location to house a full service animal shelter.

Vallone said while these were great first steps, his continued advocacy and legislation will finally make a full service animal shelter in Queens become a reality.

“Throughout the last four years, Speaker [Corey] Johnson and I have fought to make full service animal shelters a reality for Queens and the Bronx. Only one option is acceptable for this city and the residents of Queens and the Bronx – a fully functional animal shelter with adoption, veterinary and educational services,” said Vallone.

“Having animal shelters in every borough reflects our belief that all animals should be protected and given the opportunity to find a home. After almost three decades, five administrations and an uncertain future, we could not afford to wait one more day. I am proud to pass this important legislation as we send a clear message to everyone who has been fighting this battle, even long before we’ve been here, that the greatest city in the world deserves the greatest shelters in the world and this is a legacy we can be proud of,” he added.

Katz Says Justice Served In Sentencing Killer of Imam Maulana Akonjee & Thara Uddin

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz (D) Borough President Melinda Katz stated the following in response to the sentence issued today to Oscar Morel, convicted for murdering Imam Maulana Akonjee and his aide Thara Uddin as they walked home following prayers at Al-furqan Jame Masjid in Ozone Park in August 2016.

Morel was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

“Morel executed Imam Akonjee and Thara Uddin mere blocks from the mosque in cold blood, from which the community still reels and mourns to this day. The two men were fathers devoted to their faith, their families and the community, and their murder shook the community and instilled fear through its core. The justified sentence delivered today sends a powerful message that in Queens, such heinous acts of hate will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Queens thanks the stellar team at District Attorney Richard Brown’s Office for this strong delivery of justice.”

Meeks Lauds Immigrant Heritage Month

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meek (D)-Jamaica, Laurelton, Rosedale, Cambria Heights, Saint Albans, Springfield Gardens, Far Rockaway, JFK Airport.) yesterday lauded Queens as the immigrant capital of the world while recognizing June as national Immigrant Heritage Month.

“With over 150 ethnicities and more languages spoken than anywhere else in the world, Queens is not just the immigrant capital of New York City, it is the world’s borough. Diversity is part of the very fabric of our city, woven by generation after generation of immigrants. Their immeasurable contributions to our culture and our economy have allowed New York and our nation to thrive. Evidence of that is Comptroller DiNapoli’s recent report, which found that immigrant communities and their entrepreneurial spirit have largely contributed to the economic success of Queens,” said Meeks.

“On this Immigrant Heritage Month, we must not only reflect on the value of immigrants, but our values as a nation of immigrants. Despite the hateful rhetoric and repugnant policies of the current White House, New York continues to uphold the ideals commemorated on the Statue of Liberty’s plaque, celebrating and protecting all our immigrants from the emboldened hate and bigotry we see today.

“To everyone who sacrificed something to join in our great melting pot, New York stands by you, and is better for it, in every way.”

Ulrich Condemns City for Placing Men’s Shelter in Ozone Park

City Council Member Eric Ulrich

City Council Member Eric Ulrich (D-Belle Harbor, Breezy Point, Broad Channel, Hamilton Beach, Howard Beach, Lindenwood, Neponsit, Ozone Park, Rockaway Beach, Rockaway Park, South Ozone Park, Woodhaven) yesterday condemned the city for for placing a men’s homeless shelter in Ozone Park.

“I am deeply disturbed by the city’s decision to place a men’s shelter in the heart of Ozone Park. Mayor de Blasio has failed to alleviate the chronic homelessness epidemic facing our City. Instead of addressing the root causes of poverty and a lack of affordable housing, the Administration is frantically trying to construct shelters in residential neighborhoods,” said Ulrich.

“This strategy is neither helpful to those who have fallen on hard times, nor is it in the best interest of the local community. The proposed location on 101st Avenue is completely inappropriate for people with mental health issues. I will be working with my colleagues in government to determine if a more suitable population can be sheltered there. Our community deserves better.”

Lancman Looks At How DAs Address Opioid Crisis

City Council Member Rory I Lancman

City Council Member Rory Lancman (D-Briarwood, Cunningham Park, Flushing, Flushing Meadows, Corona Park, Fresh Meadows, Hollis, Holliswood, Jamaica, Jamaica Estates, Jamaica Hills, Kew Gardens, Kew Gardens Hills, Richmond Hill), chair of the council’s Justice Committee, announced yesterday the committee will hold an oversight hearing to examine how the City’s District Attorneys are addressing the opioid crisis.

The hearing follows a recent New York Times report that outlined how district attorneys around the country are increasingly treating opioid overdose deaths as homicides and, in turn, are prosecuting individuals who are not actually dealers, many of whom are addicts themselves.

The committee will be seeking insight into how opioid-related cases are prosecuted in each of the five boroughs by the City’s District Attorneys and the Special Narcotics Prosecutor, including the use of alternatives to incarceration and diversion programs.

“The opioid epidemic is a public health crisis that has torn apart families and communities all across New York City,” said Lancman. “Prosecutors have a vital role to play in combating this crisis and ensuring that individuals who are struggling with opioid addiction receive the help and treatment that they need. I look forward to hearing from our City’s District Attorneys and the Special Narcotics Prosecutor about the prosecutorial strategies they are choosing to pursue and the programs they have put into place.”