Queens Lawmakers On The Move Feb. 27, 2019

Queens County City Council News

Meng Demands FTC Investigate FB’s Collection of Personal Health Data

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng

Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-Bayside, Flushing, Forest Hills, Rego Park, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Maspeth) sent a letter to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Joseph Simons this week urging his agency to launch an investigation into Facebook’s collection of personal health data from smartphone users.

The letter comes in response to an article in the Wall Street Journal “You Give Apps Sensitive Personal Information. Then They Tell Facebook,” a story that found Facebook has been collecting millions of users’ most sensitive health data—without the user’s consent, and even if the user has no connection to Facebook.

“I’m outraged over Facebook’s enormous data collection practices that includes people’s most sensitive and intimate health information. Today, there are millions of smartphone apps that allow people to save incredibly personal data such as their ovulation and menstrual cycles, and heart rate – but this information is automatically sent to Facebook and unknowingly to the user. No one has given consent to Facebook to use such data,” said Meng.

“This is an egregious violation of privacy, and I demand the FTC open an investigation into Facebook’s data collection practices immediately, and for Facebook to stop these collections,” added Meng.

Van Bramer Hosts 9th Annual Black History Month Celebration

City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside) on Monday joined over 300 guests at his 9th Annual Black History Month Celebration at the Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement in Queensbridge.

The celebration featured an awards ceremony for outstanding black community leaders, in addition to special performances from Braata Productions, the Queensbridge Senior Shakers, and DJ Hank Pollard.

This year, Van Bramer presented the Distinguished Public Service Award to his colleague Council Member and now Public Advocate Jumaane Williams for his tireless and unapologetic career of progressive activism and community organizing.

“For the ninth year, I am so proud to celebrate Black History Month by honoring black community leaders for their outstanding achievements and invaluable contributions to our borough and our city,” said Van Bramer.

“Their backgrounds may be diverse, but these leaders all share the same Queens values and an unyielding commitment to public service. I am incredibly grateful for their leadership and the profound impact each and every one of them has had on our community,” added Van Bramer.

Weprin, Liu Announce Passage Of Religious Garb Bill In Assembly, Push For Senate Vote 

Assemblymember David Weprin
State Senator John Liu

Assembly member David I. Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows, Richmond Hill) and State Senator John C. Liu (D-College Point, Whitestone, Bayside, Flushing, Jamaica Estates, Fresh Meadows, Bellerose, Floral Park, Jamaica, Douglaston, Little Neck, Auburndale, Kissena Park, Briarwood) and religious freedom advocates will announce State Assembly passage of A.04204, ‘The Religious Garb Bill’ today and push for it’s passage in the State Senate.

The bill is intended to protect the rights of all New Yorkers regardless of religion in the workplace. The legislation was inspired by the case of Kevin Harrington, a Sikh subway operator for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), who was ordered to remove his turban or deface it with an MTA logo.

The legislation, first introduced by Weprin in 2011, has passed in the Assembly each year since 2013 and is currently being carried by Senator Liu in the Senate. The bill aims to end workplace discrimination with regard to religious expression.

The event is slated for 12:30 p.m., today, Feb. 27, at the Assembly Staircase, 3rd Floor in Albany.

Vallone Calls for Disclosure of Sex Offenders At Homeless Shelters

City Council Member Paul Vallone

City Council member Paul Vallone (D-Auburndale, Bay Terrace, Bayside, Beechhurst, College Point, Douglaston, Flushing, Little Neck, Malba, Whitestone) yesterday announced that he is drafting a City Council resolution calling on New York State to pass legislation that would require the disclosure of sex offenders who are being housed in homeless shelters.

Sex offenders in New York State have a long list of reporting and registration requirements that allow residents and families to be aware of their presence. These requirements are particularly strict for level 3 offenders who are considered to have a high risk of committing another sex crime. Current New York State Social Services law restricts a social services agency from divulging that a sex offender is being housed in a temporary homeless shelter.

Vallone’s announcement comes off the heels of an ongoing battle between the city and local residents in College Point against a proposed men’s homeless shelter. Last December, opponents of the plan geared up to sue the city holding a protest outside the planned shelter at 127-03 20th Avenue, according to QNS.

In 2007, the State Assembly and Senate passed legislation that would have closed any loopholes that allow confidentiality when homeless sex offenders are placed in temporary housing, but it was vetoed by Governor Eliot Spitzer who cited privacy and implementation concerns.

“If the City brings a homeless shelter with over two hundred transient men to any community, then those residents must be able to know if there is registered sex offender at that location,” said Vallone.

“The proposed site in College Point, a result of profit hunting and failed policies, continues to show why it is a clear threat to the safety of over three thousand students and the quality of life of the community at large. Whether you’re placing a registered sex offender in our communities for one year, or even one day, then we have a right to know” added Vallone.