Queens Lawmakers On The Move March 1, 2019

Queens County City Council News

Koo Applauds NYC Open Data Kick Off

City Council Member Peter Koo

City Council Member Peter Koo (D-Bayside, College Point, Flushing, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Fresh Meadows, Whitestone), Chair of the Committee on Technology, yesterday applauded the De Blasio Administration’s Kick Off of NYC Open Data Week 2019.

To celebrate the start of the City’s third annual Open Data Week, the de Blasio Administration announced the appointment of members to New York City’s first-ever Open Data Advisory Council.

The city’s Open Data program allows New Yorkers to access over 2,300 free municipal datasets, ranging from 311 service requests to crime incidents by neighborhood to the location of every street tree in the City.

NYC Open Data Week 2019 (March 1-9) is a week-long celebration of the City’s public data across all five boroughs. New Yorkers are invited to experience more than 45 events, exhibits, panels, and workshops across the City that explore how open data is being used across New York City communities.

“Access to information is the key to maintaining the checks and balances of our Democracy, and New York City is a consistent innovator with NYC Open Data. As we celebrate NYC Open Data Week 2019, I encourage all New Yorkers to take advantage of the treasure trove of information at their fingertips, and help ensure our government is serving the people in the best way possible,” said Koo.

City Council Approves Constantinides Bills Aimed at Preventing Sewer Backups

City Council Member Costa Constantinides

The city council yesterday enacted a pair of bills aimed at significantly clearing sewer backups, especially in areas of the five boroughs prone to chronic issues. Not only will the City now respond quicker to backups, it must come up with a targeted long-term prevention strategy.

“Sewer backups aren’t just a smelly mess, but a nuisance that can ruin homes or put lives at risk,” said City Council Member Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria,parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights), chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection, who introduced the bills. “The legislation passed targets the causes of backups so they no longer menace coastal communities. When they do, however, New York City must now respond to these backups in a timely manner for the sake of these neighborhoods.”  

Sewer backups can blight neighborhoods — especially coastal areas in southeast Queens and on the north shore of Staten Island — by spewing harmful bacteria and other material into streets, homes, and local businesses. Southeast Queens neighborhoods lead the City in flooding complaints to 311 for the fiscal year ending in June 2016.

The Department of Environmental Protection must now clear confirmed blockages within 10 days of a complaint under Intro. 424, which passed the Council at Thursday’s stated meeting. This ensures blockages are cleared in a timely manner, mitigating the public health risk they pose. The new law takes effect immediately, so communities can get some reprieve.

DEP must also create long-term plans to prevent chronic blockages in prone areas under

Intro. 425, which was also enacted. Fats, oils, and grease are a leading cause of backups, but roots creeping into the sewer system can also create messy blockages. DEP’s required strategy must identify pipelines prone to recurring backups, create a program to manage grease and create root control recommendations for home and property owners. The agency’s plan must be sent to the mayor and speaker’s office by the end of 2019.

Ramos Supports Early Voting, Rejects “Activist” Tax

State Sen.  Jessica Ramos

State Sen. Jessica Ramos (D-Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights) along with Let NY Vote activists today will rally in support of funding for early voting in the state budget and reject the proposed “activist tax,” that would lower the lobbying registration threshold from $5,000 to 500.

The legislature passed early voting into law in January, providing voters 9 additional days to vote before an election. However, the governor’s proposed budget did not include a dedicated funding stream, without which the program won’t be a success when New Yorkers go to the polls in November.

The rally is slated for 1:30 p.m., today, March 1 at PS 149, 93-11 34th Avenue in Jackson Heights.

Braunstein Announces Assembly & Senate Passage of Revenge Porn Legislation

Assembly Member Edward Braunstein

Assemblyman Edward C. Braunstein (D-Bayside) announced yesterday that the assembly & senate yesterday unanimously passed legislation to criminalize the unlawful dissemination and publication of intimate images, commonly referred to as revenge porn, and also provide victims with a civil private right of action (A.5981).

“Revenge porn is a pervasive problem that often results in victims being threatened with sexual assault, stalked, harassed, or fired from jobs,” said Braunstein, the prime sponsor of the measure on the assembly side. “Some victims have even committed suicide due to the severe emotional pain caused by the disclosure of their intimate photos. The passage of this legislation sends a strong message that individuals who engage in this type of reprehensible behavior will be held accountable for their actions.”

Braun stein said once this bill is signed into law, perpetrators will face up to a year in prison, providing prosecutors with the tools necessary to punish those who commit these despicable crimes.

“Victims will also be able to file for a court order requiring websites to permanently remove the offending images as well as obtain significant civil penalties against the abuser. This would make New York the first state in nation to allow a court to issue an injunction requiring websites to take these videos and images down,” he said.