Queens Lawmakers On The Move Aug. 9, 2018

Queens County City Council News

Lancman, Rosenthal Commend 107th Precinct for Adding School Crossing Guard to Local Schools

City Council Member Rory I Lancman
Assembly Member Daniel Rosenthal

City Council Member Rory I. Lancman (D-Kew Gardens Hills, Pomonok, Electchester, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, Jamaica Estates, Briarwood, Parkway Village, Jamaica Hills, Jamaica) and Assembly Member Daniel Rosenthal (D-Flushing, Kew Gardens, Utopia, Forest Hills, Glendale, Middle Village Corona, Flushing, Jackson Heights, Auburndale, Clearview)  issued the following statement regarding news that the 107th Police Precinct has officially assigned a school crossing guard to Yeshiva Ketana of Queens and Al-Mamoor School in Fresh Meadows.

In response to community concerns, Lancman and Rosenthal wrote a letter to New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill in June to urge the Police Department to add a School Crossing Guard at the intersection of 78th Rd and Parsons Boulevard.

“We are grateful to the NYPD for listening to the concerns of our community and adding a new School Crossing Guard to Yeshiva Ketana of Queens and Al-Mamoor School. There is nothing more important than the wellbeing of our children, and the School Crossing Guard will help ensure that the students who attend both schools are safe crossing this busy intersection. We appreciate all the students, parents, teachers, and community members who made their voices heard to help keep our children safe.”

Constantinides Introduces Bill Requiring Unannounced Inspections of Drinking Water Tanks

City Council Member Costa Constantinides

City Council Member Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Woodside), chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection, along with Council Members Mark Levine (D-Manhattan), and Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx) and in partnership with Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. yesterday introduced legislation that would require the City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to conduct unannounced inspections of drinking water tanks atop buildings.

Tanks are typically made from cedar and used to feed water to buildings taller than six stories. More than 10,000 buildings in the five boroughs rely on water tanks, according to City estimates. Until about a decade ago, these tanks were essentially unregulated to ensure they complied with various City codes.

The lawmakers say monitoring the city water systems, either tanks that hold drinkable water or cooling towers, is crucial as New York endures yet more outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease, a form of pneumonia caused by contaminated water particles. Health officials recently found traces of Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease, in the water supply at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx. Harmful materials found in drinking water tanks at several New York City Housing Authority properties were not included on reports to DOHMHaccording to a recent City & State article.

Intro. 657-A of 2017 required landlords to submit annual tank inspection reports to show they complied with all New York City administrative, construction, and health codes. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene received those reports, which are then supposed go into an online open data portal.

Unfortunately a City & State report in May found many inspections are done after the tank is scrubbed of sediments or harmful materials such as dead pigeons, squirrels, and roaches. While doing so is legal under the existing laws, it deprives the City of a full picture of what New Yorkers might be drinking on the average day. Samples from tanks atop several municipal buildings also showed signs of E. Coli, used to determine if the water contains potentially harmful bacteria.

The new bill, which will be formally introduced to the City Council on Wednesday, would require spot checks of water tanks conducted by DOHMH without the building owner’s prior knowledge. The legislation would also cover both private buildings as well as public ones, including NYCHA properties, which experts told City & State last week had some of the worst materials. This will give a clearer picture of what types of materials are in the tanks, which will then be posted online n a public database.

“New Yorkers should not have to worry about harmful bacteria in the water they drink,” said Constantinides. “Unfortunately, landlords are misrepresenting the condition of the water stored inside tanks for many buildings. This legislation will provide the necessary oversight to ensure our residents, especially those in low-income housing, are healthy.”

Avella, Advocates Rally in Support of Speed Camera Legislation

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) today will join with Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets to call on the Republican majority in the senate to return to Albany to vote on life-saving speed camera legislation.

Current legislation authorizing the cameras expired on July 25.

The rally is slated for 11 a.m., today, Aug. 9 in front of PS130, 200-01 42nd Avenue (corner of 42nd Avenue and Francis Lewis Boulevard) in Bayside.

Espinal to Host “DREAMers Day of Action”

Assemblywoman Ari Espinal

Assemblywoman Ari Espinal (D-Jackson Heights, Corona), running for re-election in the 39th District, and her campaign will be hosting a “DREAMers Day of Action” on August 15, the 6th anniversary of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

“I am so excited to have the ‘DREAMers Day of Action’ to recognize this milestone, especially as Trump threatens our immigrant friends, family, and neighbors. Our state government must take greater measure to protect all New Yorkers,” said Espinal.

“After years of advocating for it as a staffer, I am proud to be a co-sponsor of the Dream Act. But until this legislation is passed and we end Washington’s threats, we cannot give up the fight to protect our undocumented friends and neighbors,” the lawmaker added.

The event is slated for between 5-9 p.m., Aug, 15 at Espinal’s campaign headquarters, 46-20 104th Street in Corona.

James Announces Legislation to Close Loophole Allowing Foreign Contributions to NYC Political Campaigns

Public Advocate Letitia James

Public Advocate Letitia James (D) yesterday announced major new legislation designed to prevent foreign entities from circumventing the city’s strict campaign finance laws through a loophole created by Citizens United.

Introduced in the wake of substantial new evidence of a coordinated Kremlin effort to illegally funnel money through the NRA to benefit Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, this legislation will help ensure that the city’s elections are free from corrupt foreign influence.

“New York City will not allow its elections to be bought by corporations or targeted by foreign influence,” said James. “While the President may be okay slow-rolling protections for our federal elections, we will do everything in our power to protect the integrity of the democratic process at the local level. By closing this loophole, we can help create a national model for campaign finance reform while protecting our local elections from corrupt foreign influence.”

Under federal law, foreign governments, companies, and individuals are expressly prohibited from making contributions to any local, state, or national election in the United States.

However, Citizens United created a gaping loophole in not just federal law, but in state and local laws across the country. Foreign individuals and entities can simply buy stakes in American companies and make campaign contributions or spend an unlimited amount of money on independent expenditures, which is permitted as a result of the ruling in Citizens United. This bill will close that gaping loophole by extending the prohibition to not just foreign entities but those entities under substantial foreign influence or control.

James’ bill defines “foreign influenced entities” as an entity for which:

  • a foreign national owns or controls five percent of entity;
  • Foreign nationals collectively own or control 20 percent of entity;
  • or A foreign national participates directly or indirectly in decision-making regarding political activities.

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