Queens Lawmakers On The Move Nov. 21, 2018

Queens County City Council News

Van Bramer, Gianaris Decline To Participate In Amazon Community Advisory Council

City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer
State Sen. Michael Gianaris

City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside, Woodside, Long Island City, Astoria, Dutch Kills) and State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside and parts of Woodside, Maspeth, Ridgewood, Woodhaven) yesterday announced they will not participate in a community advisory council for the proposed Amazon development, which would bring the company’s second headquarters to Long Island City

“This Community Advisory Council is a thinly veiled attempt to present the Amazon development as a fait accompli and move the discussion towards how to accommodate their entrance to the community,” said the two lawmakers in a joint statement.

“As we have made abundantly clear, we oppose the deal to bring Amazon to Long Island City and continue to fight against it. We will not participate in the Community Advisory Council, whose purpose is to give local validation to a project we are working to stop in its tracks,” they added.

Kim Responds To Audit Reports Of Navient

Assembly Member Ron Kim

Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Whitestone, Flushing, College Point, Murray Hill) yesterday noted an Associated Press exclusive story that found Navient, one of the nation’s largest student loan servicing programs, was engaged in deceiving distressed borrowers into higher repayment programs.

“This report is terrifying and verifies what many states and elected officials accused Navient of doing for many years, exploiting vulnerable borrowers to make millions on interest. However, Navient is a symptom of a deeply rooted problem stemmed in our broken higher education market system. For forty years, we have underinvested in our higher education while extending endless interest-bearing loans to students, putting millions of Americans in debt peonage for life. We must focus our energy now on fixing this system,” said Kim.

Kim said his new legislation, the New Yorkers Financial Freedom Act will create a full-time office dedicated to reducing and phasing out corporate welfare in five years and committing those funds toward buying, canceling, and monetizing student debt. The legislation would give New York the ability to exercise eminent domain powers to buy distressed debt.

“When we cancel student debt, we will liberate generations of working and middle-class families who will immediately add value to local economies,” Kim added.

Find the Copy of New Yorkers Financial Freedom Act here.

Lancman Presses City to Take Rise in White Supremacist Hate Crimes Seriously

City Councilman Rory Lancman

City Council Member Rory I. Lancman (D-Kew Gardens Hills, Pomonok, Electchester, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, Jamaica Estates, Briarwood, Parkway Village, Jamaica Hills, Jamaica) this week urged the city to take the rise in white supremacist violence seriously, and treat these hate groups as the domestic terrorist organizations that they are.

Lancman’s comments came at a City Council hearing to examine how the city is combating white supremacist hate crimes, following the rise of alt-right violence and the “Proud Boys” assaults in October, and the strategies the police department is using to keep New Yorkers safe.

The NYPD reported that there have already been more than 300 hate crimes in 2018, a slight increase from 2017, while the number of antisemitic hate crimes has increased by 18 percent.

Lancman expressed his concern that the city is not responding with appropriate seriousness or devoting sufficient resources to thwart these domestic terrorists. Lancman pointed out that the NYPD’s hesitation to take action in October after members of the Proud Boys, a noted hate group, attacked individuals on the streets of New York served as confirmation that the city needed to revamp its preparation and strategies to prevent similar incidents in the future.

“I am concerned that as we hear about the strategies, technologies and manpower being dispatched to uncover plots by international terrorists who want to do us harm, that we do not have that same focus and intensity on domestic terrorists. That is what these people need to be viewed as: domestic terrorists. They are not just random individuals with dangerous ideas,” said Lancman.

Lancman reiterated his call for the city to support a Citywide Nonprofit Security Grant Program, an initiative he proposed to provide religious and cultural institutions that are credible targets of violence with funds to protect themselves.

“The state and federal government have funding streams available for non-profit institutions at-risk of an attack, but the city has refused to make the same commitment. In light of what so many communities are experiencing, I think it is time for New York City to join New York State and the federal government in providing support to institutions that are right now scrambling to come up with resources needed to protect themselves,” added Lancman.

Ulrich Throws Thanksgiving Meal For All

City Council Member Eric Ulrich

City Council Member Eric Ulrich (R-Belle Harbor, Breezy Point, Broad Channel, Hamilton Beach, Howard Beach, Lindenwood, Neponsit, Ozone Park, Rockaway Beach, Rockaway Park, South Ozone Park, Woodhaven) is inviting anybody feeling sad or lonely and with no place to go on Thanksgiving to share the holiday meal with him.

“I am organizing a free Thanksgiving Day dinner from 3 to 6 p.m., [tomorrow] at Arabella’s Castle in Ozone Park and would be honored to have anyone join me. I will provide transportation for seniors or people with disabilities. If you know someone who is home bound or alone on the holiday, please call my office (718) 738-1083. We will take care of the rest! I have wonderful memories of large family gatherings growing up and I’m thankful for each of them. I want to give back.

“If anyone is interested in volunteering that day please let me know. I will need help setting up, serving, cleaning up and driving. Delicious food is being donated by neighborhood restaurants. Let’s make this Thanksgiving a happy occasion and bring love to those who need it most.

“This event is free-of-charge and open to the public. I would like to have am estimate of people who will be coming no later than tomorrow morning, however, no one will be turned away. Thank you!”

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