Queens Lawmakers On The Move. Feb. 4, 2019

Queens County City Council News

Meeks Calls for Northam’s Resignation Over Racist Photo

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks

U.S. Rep. Gregory W. Meeks yesterday called for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) to resign following revelations of a racist photo in a 1984 Medical school yearbook showing one person in blackface and another wearing a white Ku Klux Klan uniform.

Northam at first admitted he was the one wearing blackface, but later denied it, but admitting blackening his face another time when dressing up like singer Michael Jackson.

“It has become abundantly clear that Governor Northam‘s press conference and conflicting explanation has failed to settle this matter and restore faith in his leadership. So long as he remains Governor, Governor of a state that once elected the first black Governor in our United States, there will continue to be a lingering shadow over that office,” said Meeks.

“Not just Virginians, but our nation as a whole would be better harmonized by Northam stepping down from his position, and allowing the wound caused by those photographs to heal,” he added.

Gillibrand Demands Urgent Action On Inhumane Conditions In Brooklyn Detention Center

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

U.S. Sen. Kirten Gillibrand (D-NY) over the weekend called on called on Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker and the Acting Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Hugh Hurwitz to take immediate action to fix the situation at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, which was without heat of electricity for some time, including last week’s cold spell.

The federal jail was the scene of a mass protest over the weekend, after it was discovered an electrical fire on Jan. 27 left inmates without electricity, heat or hot water for several days. Power was reportedly restored yesterday.

On Saturday, Gillibrand spoke with Hurwitz to get answers and urge him to fix this situation immediately. Original attempts by Gillibrand’s office on Friday to receive a full and straightforward assessment of the situation from the BOP were met with little information about the current conditions and no urgency to provide a remedy and explanation.

“These conditions are unacceptable for anyone in your care; and this says nothing of the guards who must work and serve the public in these conditions every day,” wrote Gillibrand. “These basic human issues must be addressed immediately. None of us can accept conditions that have people ‘frantic’ and ‘really really sacred’ without access to blankets, warm clothing, necessary medications and their lawyers. I write you to once again demand urgent attention to this matter in restoring this facility to full, and safe, operating capabilities without delay.”

Constantinides Lays Out Bold, Sustainable Vision In State Of The District Address

City Council Member Costa Constantinides

Council Member Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria, East Elmhurst) last week called for a re-envisioning of Astoria Boulevard, more renewable energy within Council District 22 schools, and replacing the jail on Rikers Island with green infrastructure.

The initiatives were all outlined in the lawmaker’s State of the District address at P.S. 2 — The Alfred Zimberg School in East Elmhurst.

Constantinides called on the City’s Department of Transportation to conduct a comprehensive review of the 4.5-mile Astoria Boulevard, which runs from the Triboro Bridge to Citi Field. Despite efforts to keep large trucks merging onto the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the street has still seen significant backups and accidents in the last year. The Council Member also suggested a new station house with a parking garage to replace the 50-year-old home of the 114th Precinct, recognizing the current layout leads to blocked intersections, sidewalks, and overpasses.

The Council Member also introduced a plan to replace the beleaguered jail at Rikers Island with “critical environmental infrastructure,” as former New York State Chief Justice Jonathan Lippman recommended in 2017. The City has vowed to close the detention center within the next decade in favor of borough-based jails, freeing up the 400-acre Rikers Island, which is located within District 22.

He also announced legislation is in the works directing the DOT to determine, on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis, whether parking meters should be suspended during religious services. This will allow religious communities to take part in their sacred traditions and prayers without worrying about an expensive parking ticket.

The Council Member also highlighted some of the major victories District 22 residents accomplished in 2018, such as park improvements, affordable housing, and education. Those include:

  • Beginning construction on the new soccer field and running track in Astoria Park, which is the first phase in a historic $30 million investment from the Mayor’s Office.
  • Winning complete funding for a senior affordable housing development at Broadway and 31st Street, which Speaker Corey Johnson announced at his District 22 town hall in October.
  • Securing more than $3 million in partnership with Speaker Johnson to complete the full renovation of the Astoria Library.
  • Funding construction of new hydroponic science labs in six Council District 22 schools, which will give tomorrow’s leaders hands-on lessons in biology, nutrition, agriculture, and technology. Constantinides also recently opened two of these in-school greenhouses in earlier budgets.
  • Working with the Queens Delegation, led by Council Member Karen Koslowitz, for a $450,000 for three ultrasound units and cardiac monitoring systems at Mt. Sinai Queens Hospital.

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