Queens Lawmakers On The Move June 20, 2018

Queens County City Council News

Katz Lauds Decriminalization, Legalization & Regulation Of Marijuana

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz

Queens Borough President Katz (D), who last month urged Mayor Bill de Blasio for the responsible decriminalization and legalization of marijuana praised the city and state on their latest efforts to do just that.

The New York State Health Department announced this week that its study commissioned by Governor Andrew Cuomo six months ago will recommend the state legalize and regulate recreational marijuana. The Department also announced yesterday its new regulatory amendment to add opioid use as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana.

Then yesterday de Blasio announced the New York City Police Department will change its enforcement policy on marijuana and issue summonses instead of making arrests for most cases.

“These are major steps for the City and State of New York, bringing us closer to long overdue legalization and justice reform. The State Health Department’s amendment offers a strong tool in the war against the opioid addiction epidemic, and its study commissioned by Governor Cuomo brings us closer than ever to statewide legalization,” said Katz.

“The unfairness in the city’s existing marijuana enforcement policy has been difficult to deny and has propagated unequal treatment within policing for far too long. Mayor de Blasio’s new citywide policy unveiled today will help reduce unnecessary arrests and enhance public trust,” he added.

Lancman Reiterates Call for DAs to Decline Prosecuting Marijuana Possession Arrests or Summonses

City Council Member Rory I Lancman

City Council Member Rory I. 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 Committee on the Justice System, yesterday called Mayor de Blasio’s new marijuana enforcement policy a marginal improvement, but a real missed opportunity to fundamentally change how the City polices marijuana possession and smoking.

“No one should be arrested for smoking marijuana, period. Further, the mayor’s policy does not attempt to reduce criminal summonses at all, still allows arrests in circumstances that cannot be justified by public safety, will likely make marijuana policing even more discriminatory toward people of color, continues to expose noncitizens to deportation, and takes no steps to eliminate the collateral consequences which are in the City’s control,” said Lancman.

“The legalization train in New York has left the station. The Mayor should get on it. In the meantime, our district attorneys should exercise their authority to decline to prosecute these low-level marijuana cases,” he added.

Avella Gets Feasibility Study of “All Way” Stop at 23rd Avenue and Corporal Kennedy Street

Sen. Tony Avella

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-College Point, Whitestone, Bayside, Flushing, Jamaica Estates, Fresh Meadows, Bellerose, Floral Park, Jamaica, Douglaston, Little Neck, Auburndale, Kissena Park, Briarwood) announced yesterday he has finally gotten the Department of Transportation (DOT) to study the feasibility of an “All Way” stop at the intersection of 23rd Avenue and Corporal Kennedy Street.

Avella has been requesting DOT install additional traffic controls at this dangerous location since his days in the New York City Council, only to be denied every time.

This location is dangerous because the road curves and visibility is limited and part of 23rd Avenue prior to the curve is uphill. It is also near the entrance to the Bay Club, whose residents have difficulty entering and exiting their complex because of the existing traffic conditions.

“There is no reason that it should take DOT this long to realize that this is a very dangerous intersection,” said Avella.“To take years to repeatedly deny traffic controls, and constantly telling an elected official there is no problem at the intersection despite repeated complaints, shows how out of touch this administration and the agency is. Hopefully, the community will receive a positive response from this latest study.”

Vallone Continues Breaking Records with New Budget for District

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) yesterday announced for a fifth straight year he has continued breaking funding records, securing nearly $6 million for the residents of Northeast Queens for much needed capital and expense projects throughout the community in the recently passed $89.1 billion Fiscal Year 2019 city budget.

Through working with City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Queens delegation council members, over $14 million in additional funding was allocated to Vallone’s district, bringing the total amount to over $20 million. Throughout Vallone’s first five years, his district has received nearly $85 million in funding, a number that nearly eclipses two decades of city budgets before him.

“Each year we have proudly reached new records and milestones for Northeast Queens. Standing with our speaker and borough president, we have once again invested in the future of our children, schools, parks, and libraries. You can’t hide what you’re passionate about and defending our quality of life and safety while making sure our children, families, teachers and Principals have every resource they need, have always been my top priorities,” said Vallone.

In total, Vallone has secured over $8.2 million for his district’s schools and nearly $6 million for parks. Once again every school within the district will receive at least $50,000, with many schools receiving additional capital funding for critical upgrades. Some of these projects include $1.9 million for Bayside High School’s musical performance space, $750,000 for P.S. 32’s Gymnasium, $400,000 for P.S. 41’s playground, and over $1 million for security camera systems at P.S. 184, P.S. 209 and World Journalism High School. This year’s budget victory follows on the heels of the the most successful Participatory Budgeting cycle yet, with over 8,000 votes cast throughout the district.

Vallone’s budget also provides significant upgrades to our parks with $1 million going to Bowne Park, $595,000 going to MacNeil Park to fund the construction of granite steps and pathways to the shoreline, and nearly $400,000 for the land acquisition of an important parcel in Udalls Cove.

“One of the most exciting announcements to come will be the creation of a brand new community sports complex in Bay Terrace,” said Vallone. “By partnering with the Samuel Field Y, the borough president and our speaker, Samuel Field Y will be able to permanently enclose the existing tennis bubble in Bay Terrace as they expand into a full service community center. I look forward to announcing further details about this project shortly.”

Espinal Receives Meng Endorsement

Assemblywoman Ari Espinal (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, Corona), running for re-election in the 39th District, yesterday received U.S. Rep. Grace Meng’s endorsement.

“I am excited to support Assemblywoman Ari Espinal as she runs for re-election. Throughout her years of service to our community, I have seen firsthand her commitment to bettering the lives of all who call Queens home. From working to secure language resources for immigrants to protecting workers’ rights, Assemblywoman Espinal is a fighter for all of us. She is the leader we need in Albany,” said Meng.

“I am proud to have Congresswoman Meng’s endorsement. She is a strong voice for Queens in Congress, and she is on the frontlines fighting against the Trump Administration for healthcare, equal rights, and protections for immigrants. I am excited to continue working with her to deliver for our community,” said Espinal.

A lifelong resident of the district, Espinal was elected to the Assembly in the April 24th Special Election. She has served as a District Leader for 4 years and has been an engaged civic leader and progressive activist for a decade. Prior to her election, Espinal served for seven years on City Councilmember Francisco Moya‘s staff while he served in the Assembly.

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