Queens Lawmakers On The Move Jan. 28, 2019

Queens County City Council News

Meeks Introduces Bills to Provide Financial Relief To Furloughed Fed Workers 

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica, Laurelton, Rosedale, Cambria Heights, Saint Albans, Springfield Gardens, The Rockaways, JFK Airport) last week announced he will introduce two bills that would provide significant financial relief to furloughed federal workers and government contractors who have gone without pay during the recent government shutdown.

The measures are Meeks first official acts as chairman of the House Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions.

The Federal Worker Credit Protection Act of 2019 allows furloughed employees to remove negative information from their credit reports should they resolve late payments three months after the end of this shutdown.

The Federal Workers Banking Assistance Act would incentivize banks to provide interest-free loans, fee waivers, and other affordable financial products to furloughed employees and government contractors impacted during a shutdown. The bill achieves this aim by allowing banks to receive favorable Community Reinvestment Act credit for assisting furloughed employees. Currently, banks can receive consideration when they lend in areas impacted by a major natural disaster, but cannot receive consideration for assistance to individuals facing economic hardship due to a lapse in government funding. This would apply to all future shutdowns.

“One too many times, federal workers have been used as pawns in political gamesmanship. Trump is playing a dangerous game of chicken with the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of federal workers, including TSA agents and air traffic controllers who work at JFK International Airport in my district. It’s a disgrace and the least we can do is provide financial relief and protection by allowing workers to repair their credit and receive affordable or free financial services,” said Meeks.

Meng Pressures Trump To Negotiate In Good Faith

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, pressured President Trump to negotiate in good faith with Congress now that tentative three week federal spending bill was put in place.

“For the last 35 days, 800,000 federal employees have been held hostage by President Trump, Senate Majority Leader McConnell, and House Republicans over their refusal to do their most basic duty which is to fund the government. President Trump’s reckless demand for a border wall in exchange for reopening the government created unnecessary confusion and fear for our federal employees and the American people,” said Meng.

“Democrats support smart border security measures, but a medieval wall on the U.S.-Mexico border is an outdated mode of thinking from the president. I look forward to the government reopening and hope the president will negotiate in good faith in the coming weeks,” she added.

Katz Says More Community Input Needed In Rikers Island Closing Plan

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz (D) last week in her annual State of the Borough address gave her continued support for closing the Rikers Island city jail, but noted that “the irony, however, of unveiling a citywide plan for ‘modern community-based jails’ in the absence of community input is not lost on the boroughs, certainly not here in Queens.”

“I have been, and I remain, a strong supporter of closing Rikers Island,” the Borough President said. “It is a moral imperative that we overhaul our city’s jails system to one that is safer, more efficient, more humane and less costly. And closing Rikers is an integral part of that.”

But Katz said the lack of community input into the proposal to build a 1.9 million square-foot jail facility on 82nd Avenue in Kew Gardens must include meaningful community engagement and input.

“The City needs to start anew. Their current plan has the closure of Rikers nearly a decade out. There’s still time and opportunity to do it the right way: careful planning in collaboration with affected communities – who are treated as partners in, not irrelevant to, reform – while employing smart criminal justice strategies to reduce the jail population,” said Katz.

Addabbo Continues To Oppose Ozone Park Homeless Shelter

Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr.

State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth, parts of South Ozone Park, Ridgewood, Woodside, The Rockaways) said last week he doesn’t want to leave behind one of the biggest issues his constituents faced in 2018, the proposed large population homeless shelter in Ozone Park.

The Department of Homeless Services Commissioner, Steve Banks, informed Addabbo that the Mayor’s office still has intentions to utilize the former Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church, 85-15 101st Avenue, as a homeless shelter site for 113 single men, some with mental illnesses.

Addabbo still stands in solidarity with the residents of Ozone Park who do not want the ill-conceived plan to go forth as it currently stands. The site sits just blocks from five schools.

“I remain open to negotiating with the mayor to change the homeless population to homeless seniors, veterans or women and therefore doing our part in helping with the homelessness crisis facing our city,” Addabbo said. “I am extremely concerned for the safety of all and the burden on our local 102nd Precinct if the mayor does not change his plans.”

Addabbo plans to continue to urge Mayor de Blasio to address the concerns over this shelter’s size and population.

“Before any plan for this site is finalized and people are moved in there, I intend to remind the mayor of our concerns,” Addabbo said. “If the size is reduced and the population is changed, we would welcome this shelter with open arms and help those individuals get back on their feet. Until that time, I am opposed to this current plan.”

Sanders Hosts Free Legal Assistance for Senior Citizens

State Sen. James Sanders Jr.

Senator James Sanders Jr. (D-Rochdale Village, Far Rockaway) today will host free legal services for senior citizens age 60 or older at his District Office as he does the first Monday of every month.

The program is conducted in partnership with Queens Legal Services for the Elderly, a part of the Jewish Association Serving the Aging (JASA).

Assistance is available for eviction prevention, housing rights, foreclosure prevention, property fraud, elder abuse, estate planning advice, predatory lending, social security, SSI, Medicare and Medicaid eligibility.

The event is slated for between 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., today, Jan. 28 at Sanders’ District Office, 142-01 Rockaway Boulevard in South Ozone Park. The next date is February 4. Those interested must make an appointment by calling 718-523-3069.

More from Around New York