Queens Lawmakers On The Move Feb. 1, 2019

Queens County City Council News

Queens Congressional Members Issue Joint Statement On NYCHA Agreement

U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez

Democratic Congressmembers representing all or part of Queens including Nydia M. Velázquez, Carolyn B. Maloney, Gregory W. Meeks and Grace Meng, along with U.S. Reps. Eliot Engel (D-Bronx, Westchester), and Adriano Espaillat (D-Manhattan) released the following joint statement generally approving the agreement reached between the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the New York City Housing Authority.

Under the pact, HUD will appoint a federal monitor to over see NYCHA, but the city will continue to run it. The federal, state and city governments will continue to provide funding.

“We are certainly relieved that NYCHA, the city’s largest landlord and home to 400,000 of our most vulnerable neighbors, will not fall under complete control of the Trump Administration’s HUD. As this Administration has repeatedly proposed slashing funding for the public housing operating and capital funds, we share our constituents’ concerns that the current Administration’s hostility to public housing makes it a bad fit to assume day-to-day oversight of NYCHA,” said the lawmakers.

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks

“All that being said, there must be additional accountability and transparency at NYCHA, so that the agency once again becomes responsive to tenants’ needs. We are hopeful that a federal monitor can help achieve that goal. We will certainly be watching that process closely and providing vigorous Congressional oversight.

“Of course, improving public housing in New York will require significant investment at all levels of government. We recognize the Mayor and the City have already dedicated substantial funding and are committing more under the terms of this deal. Following decades of shortchanging the agency, still more must be done. In Washington, we will be fighting for additional federal dollars in the years to come. Similarly, the Governor and the state government will need to step forward. This must be a priority at every level of government.

“It is our hope that someday NYCHA can resume its place as a model for other public housing agencies across the nation. While that will take time, we hope today is a step toward that goal and we will be keeping a close watch on how this plan is implemented.”

In December, Velázquez led Democratic Members of the New York City Congressional delegation in writing to HUD Secretary Carson, arguing against federal receivership for NYCHA.

Simotas Introduces Legislation To Improve “Raise The Age” Law

Assemblymember Aravella Simotas

Assemblymember Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria, Long Island City) announced yesterday that she is introducing legislation to correct a shortcoming in the record sealing law enacted last year as part of New York’s Raise the Age reforms.  

The law currently allows individuals to apply to have a felony conviction sealed if a judge granted them youthful offender treatment. The Simotas bill would amend the New York State Criminal Procedure Law to allow people who have stayed out of trouble for 10 years, to apply for conviction sealing if they were eligible for, but did not receive youthful offender treatment when they were sentenced.

“Expanding eligibility for conviction sealing will give people who committed crimes in their youth the chance to become full members of society in adulthood. If someone has stayed out of trouble for 10 years, I think they should be granted the chance to move beyond the burden of a criminal record,” said Simotas.

Simotas said she became aware of the lapse in the law after state Supreme Court Justice Joseph Zayas, the administrative judge for the criminal term in Queens Supreme Court was interviewed by the New York Law Journal about a Deceember 12, 2018 decision he issued, reluctantly denying the sealing request of a 50-year-old woman identified as Jane Doe who had been convicted of attempted second degree robbery when she was 16 years old.

Doe was eligible to receive youthful offender treatment, but did not receive it.  Doe completed her sentence of 5 years’ probation in 1988 and stayed out of trouble ever since. In his decision, Justice Zayas noted that he was constrained by current law and forced to deny Doe’s request to have her conviction sealed, an outcome he said was “inconsistent with the laudable goals of the sealing statute.”

Meng Brings DREAMer Rhodes Scholar To State Of The Union Speech

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) said yesterday in an effort to stand against President Trump’s cruel immigration policies, she will bring Jin Park of Flushing, the first Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient to be awarded the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, as her guest for this year’s State of the Union address next week.

Park, 22, is a recent Harvard graduate and Define American Chapter Leader who won a Rhodes Scholarship for this fall at the University of Oxford in England. But since President Trump moved to end the DACA program, Park fears that he will not be permitted to re-enter the United States if he leaves the country to study at the school.

“Inviting Jin Park to Washington for the State of the Union will bring more attention to his plight and show firsthand how President Trump’s un-American immigration policies are shattering the lives of DREAMers,” said Meng. “In September 2017, President Trump ended the DACA program and since then the lives of 700,000 young people across the country have hung in limbo. It is unconscionable that the President has put their hopes and dreams of a better future in jeopardy, and that includes Jin’s fate as well. It is shameful that Jin may have to abandon this coveted opportunity for a Rhodes Scholarship, an opportunity that he worked tirelessly to achieve. I’m proud stand in solidarity with him and I will continue to fight against the divisive policies that have been hallmark of the President’s administration.”

The State of the Union will take place on Tuesday.

Addabbo Appointed Senate Majority Whip

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) yesterday was officially appointed to  serve as Majority Deputy Whip for the Democratic Conference during the 2019 legislative session.

The Senator has also been named to serve as Chair of the Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, as well as being placed on the Aging, Children & Families, Civil Service & Pensions, Education, Veterans Homeland Security & Military Affairs committees and the Domestic Animal Welfare subcommittee.

“I am honored to be given this important leadership position in the Majority Conference. I want to thank Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins for her confidence in me. My role as Majority Deputy Whip presents me an opportunity to be even more involved in the introduction and passage of legislation that will improve the lives of all New Yorkers,” said Addabbo.

“I’m very excited to serve on seven committees, all of which deal with issues that are critically important to my constituents. These assignments will ensure I continue to be directly involved with decision making when considering legislation. Advocating for senior citizens, working families, children, and our state’s veterans has always been of utmost importance to me. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on all of these vital committees,” he added.

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