Queens Lawmakers On The Move Jan. 16, 2019

Queens County City Council News

Meng, Katz Hail Fed Court Decision To Block Citizenship Question From 2020 Census

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Bayside, Flushing, Forest Hills, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Maspeth, Middle Village, Rego Park) and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz (D) yesterday hailed the Southern District Federal Court of New York’s ruling against Trump administration’s wanting to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census.

State Attorney General Letitia James filed the suit when she was the city’s public advocate.

“As a member of Congress who has led the charge against the addition of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census, I applaud this ruling by U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman. It is the right decision and will help ensure a more accurate census count,” said Meng.

“The Trump Administration’s plan to sabotage the 2020 Census by adding a last-minute citizenship question has been deeply troubling. Since last year, I have continuously warned that asking respondents if they are citizens would likely decrease response rates and as a result produce an inaccurate and incomplete count that would have a decade’s worth of consequences. It would impact the distribution of federal resources and the number of Congressional districts that each state receives. This was a politically-motivated question against immigrant communities that we now know was pushed by former White House strategist Steve Bannon. It deserves to never see the light of day.

“Although the Supreme Court will likely have the final say on this issue, we will continue to oppose any attempt to reinstate the citizenship question. We don’t need a citizenship question; we need an accurate census count,” she added.

Katz said the legal battle is likely far from over, and Queens will continue to speak out against the proposed census citizenship question for as long as there is active litigation.

“But today’s court ruling is a tremendous victory in the fight against a reckless policy targeting our thriving immigrant communities in Queens and across the country,” said Katz. “Including a citizenship question would undermine the goal of the Census: a complete count of all persons living in the United States. Here in Queens, a borough of nearly 2.4 million people of all races, ethnicities and faiths, an undercount would lead to fewer federal dollars for countless vital programs and initiatives.

Ramos, Liu Take Cuomo To Task For Lack Of School Funding

State Sen. Jessica  Ramos
State Sen. John Liu

State Senators Jessica Ramos (D-Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights) and John Liu (D-Bayside, College Point, Flushing) yesterday criticized Gov. Andrew  Cuomo’s proposed education budget for being totally inadequate due to the lack of commitment to fully fund Foundation Aid.

The Governor’s budget includes a $338 million proposed increase in Foundation Aid and $956 million in school aid, falling far short of the Board of Regents’ call for a $2.2 billion increase in school aid, which included a $1.66 billion increase in Foundation Aid.

Under current state law, schools statewide are owed $4.1 billion in Foundation Aid which the Regents and public school advocates are calling to be phased in over three years.

“Governor Cuomo must provide the full $4.1 billion our children and public schools are owed. It is a fact, and a court order. The Governor’s budget proposal falls short and I will continue to do whatever it takes to get our public schools the funding they need and to bring educational equity to New York,” said Ramos.

“The Governor’s budget proposal includes a real reduction in education funding — it doesn’t even keep up with inflation. How’s that equitable? Let’s get serious about fair school funding — CFE, Foundation Aid, whatever you call it, our kids deserve the $4.1 billion as ordered by the court,” said Liu.

Dromm Lauds State Passage of GENDA & Gay Conversion Ban

City Council Member Daniel Dromm

City Council Member and LGBT Caucus Chair Daniel Dromm (D-East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights) yesterday applauded the state legislature for passing both the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) and banning gay conversion therapy for minors.

“As a long-time LGBTQ activist, I am overjoyed by the state legislature’s passage of GENDA,” said Dromm.  “Every single day, transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals must grapple with the fact that their very existence may lead to discrimination and violence.  GENDA, sponsored by State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, will bring much-needed job, housing and other protections to these vulnerable New Yorkers when enacted.  Locally, my colleagues in the NYC Council and I have done much to advocate for transgender and gender-nonconforming people.  Because of our advocacy, NYC boasts one of the strongest laws protecting these communities.  Now all counties across the state will offer these protections as well.  It is a great day to be a New Yorker.”

In regard to the legislation outlawing compensated gay conversion therapy for minors, Dromm said, “For too long, LGBTQ youth in New York have been subject to the psychological torture known as ‘conversion therapy,’ pseudo-scientific treatments that aim to change one’s sexual orientation from gay to straight. 

“Mental health experts have long denounced this practice as quackery, with many in the field outlining the serous long-term mental health risks that it poses. As a leader of the successful effort to ban this horrific practice in NYC, I am pleased that similar protections will now be extended to children living outside the city. I applaud the legislation’s prime sponsors, State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Deborah Glick, for their commitment to this effort and thank Governor Cuomo for vowing to sign the bill into law.”

Queens Lawmakers Best Queens County Young Democrats In Charity Basketball Game

Queens elected officials utilized a few ringers in besting the Queens County Young Democrats (QCYD) in the club’s Annual Charity Basketball Game at the Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens in Astoria on Saturday night.

Elected officials and Young Democrats played a competitive but friendly and close game, with the elected officials emerging victorious for the first time in the event’s history with a score of 65-62.

Queens members of Team Elected Officials included Assemblyman Clyde Vanel, and District Leader Michael Corbett and former District Leader Angel Vazquez. However, it also included ringers from other boroughs including City Council Member Rafael Espinal (D-Brooklyn) and Assemblyman Michael Blake (D-Bronx). Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz was a special guest as leader of the cheering squad.

Members of Team Young Democrats included: Aaron Ambrose, Kieran Mahoney, Aaron Siegel, Larry Gallegos, Davon Lomax, George Hadjiconstantinou and QCYD’s Executive Vice President Antonio Alfonso.

The game raised funds for the Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens (VB&GCQ), the largest after school program in Western Queens.