Queens Lawmakers On The Move Dec. 26, 2018

Queens County City Council News

Katz To Host Borough Hall Kwanzaa Celebration

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz

Borough President Melinda Katz, in conjunction with the Borough President’s African American Heritage Committee, today will host her fifth annual Kwanzaa Celebration.

Kwanzaa is a celebration of African American heritage and culture observed annually from December 26 through January 1. The holiday celebrates and promotes seven principles for living harmoniously that are drawn from African heritage.

Doors will open at 4:45 p.m. and the event will begin at 5 p.m. with a screening of “The Black Candle,” a one-hour documentary on Kwanzaa narrated by the late poet, memoirist and civil rights activist Maya Angelou.

The live portion of the event will begin at 6 p.m. and will include performances from members of the DeVore Dance Center of St. Albans. It will also include musical performances, recitations of the seven principles of Kwanzaa and a talk on the meaning of Kwanzaa delivered by Andrew Jackson (Sekou Molefi Baako), the chair of Borough President Katz’s African American Heritage Committee and the former Executive Director of the Langston Hughes Community Library and Cultural Center in Corona.

Refreshments will be served at the conclusion of the live program.

The event is slated to start at 5 p.m., today Dec. 26 at the Helen Marshall Cultural Center in Queens Borough Hall, 120-55 Queens Boulevard in Kew Gardens.

Meng Blames Trump For Government Shutdown

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Bayside, Flushing, Forest Hills, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Maspeth, Middle Village, Rego Park) on Saturday put the blame on the federal government’s partial shutdown firmly at the feet of President Donald Trump.

Trump shutdown the government because of Congressional Democrats refusal to fully fund the building of a wall on the Mexican/U.S. border.

“This government shutdown is an embarrassment. It is an irresponsible and reckless decision by President Trump and Congressional Republicans that is harmful to our economy, federal employees, and the American people. Millions of Americans will be impacted and important government services will stop. Furthermore, over 800,000 federal employees will be furloughed without pay or will be forced to work without pay over the holiday season,” said Meng.

“House Republicans must allow the House to vote on the Senate’s clean short-term spending bill. The sooner we fund the government, the sooner Americans will again have access to the services they need and deserve,” she added.

Cuomo Signs Simotas Bill Giving Sexual Assault Survivors A Bill Of Rights

Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas

Assemblymember Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria, Long Island City) on Friday thanked Gov. Andrew Cuomo for signing into law the bill she sponsored increasing protections and rights for sexual assault survivors by creating a sexual assault survivor bill of rights.

“This is a great day that puts in place a missing protection for sexual assault survivors and brings more compassion to the law enforcement response to survivors. I’m thankful to the governor for enacting this new law, to Kemp Hannon, my colleague in the state Senate who sponsored the bill in that house and to the advocates whose dedication and collaboration brought this about.  I am proud that we could all work together for such an important cause,” said Simotas..

The new law mandates that sexual assault survivors be given a copy of a Bill of Rights that will clearly spell out existing services available to them and the rights they have under New York State laws. The Bill of Rights must be shared before a victim undergoes a forensic physical examination or interview by law enforcement.

It will inform them of:

  • The right to consult with a representative from a rape crisis or victim assistance organization before a physical exam or law enforcement interview and the right to have a representative accompany them through the exam and interview.
  • The right to free and appropriate health care services including the forensic examination, HIV post-exposure therapies, and emergency contraception.
  • The right to contact information for the law enforcement entity with jurisdiction over the crime.
  • The right to 90 days notice before a rape kit is destroyed.

Plus, the law establishes a new “right to notice” so that if victims want to be notified, they will be updated about the status of the evidence processed from their forensic examination (rape kit) and whether or not a DNA match was made.

Astoria Elected Officials Run Successful Coat Drive to Keep Needy New Yorkers Warm

City Council Member Costa Constantinides

Western Queens lawmakers including Council Member Costa Constantinides, State Senator Michael Gianaris, and Assembly Members Aravella Simotas and Brian Barnwell announced another successful coat drive to help the needy of western Queens stay warm this winter.

The lawmakers all joined together Friday to compile the coats so they can be donated.

“One of the best things about western Queens is how people look out for one another,” said Constantinides. “Thanks to all those who donated to our annual winter coat drive, ensuring those in need that we have their back. I’m always proud to partner with Senator Gianaris and Assembly Members Simotas and Barnwell in this great work.”

“New Yorkers are giving people throughout the year, but even more so during the holidays,” said Gianaris. “I thank all those who donated to those in need and hope these coats help keep people warm this holiday season.”

“Many thanks to the western Queens residents who donated warm coats,” said Simotas. “The annual winter coat drive is proof positive that people in this community have big hearts and generous souls.”

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