Queens Lawmakers On The Move March 29, 2019

Queens County City Council News

Constantinides, Ulrich, Hyndman To Announce Bill to Clean Up NYC Shores

City Council Member Costa Constantinides/Facebook
City Council Member Eric Ulrich

City Council member Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria, parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights) and Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) alongside Assemblymember Alicia Hyndman (D-Jamaica, Hollis, Rosedale) today will announce a new bill to create the Office of Marine Debris Disposal, targeting derelict boats throughout New York City’s shores.

Assembly Member Alicia Hyndman

The measure will put city resources behind otherwise volunteer efforts to remove washed up trash on public beaches. The bill will also look to target abandoned boats that have been a particular issue at beaches.

Many owners who can no longer afford their vessels let them just float away rather than going through the proper disposal process. Sandy made the situation especially worse when the violent storm threw boats onto beaches and into inaccessible areas. More than 100 derelict boats were littered around Jamaica Bay by 2015, according to the Littoral Society.

The announcement is slated for 12:15 p.m., today, March 29, at Crossbay Kiteboard Launch Area (at Crossbay Boulevard at the southern end of the North Channel Bridge) in Broad Channel.

Miller, Dromm Call On State To Mandate Employee Protections For School Bus Contracts

Councilmember I. Daneek Miller

City Council members I. Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans, Hollis, Cambria Heights, Queens Village, Addisleigh Park, Jamaica, Springfield Gardens) Civil Service and Labor Committee Chair, Daniel Dromm (D-East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights), Finance Committee Chair, and Mark Treyger (D-Brooklyn), Education Committee Chair, yesterday introduced Resolution 811 aimed at protecting fair wages and benefits for New York City employees in bus contracts.

The measure calls on Governor Andrew Cuomo and the State Legislature to pass fair wages and benefits for unionized school bus drivers, matrons and mechanics in New York City. The three members’ resolution calls for the passage of a measure, as part of the upcoming fiscal year’s state budget, mandating the inclusion of EPP in all current and future New York City school bus contracts covering Kindergarten through Grade 12.

City Council Member Daniel Dromm

According to the lawmakers, the City’s school bus system is on the brink of collapse and special needs students face a shortage of drivers. For more than 30 years, Employee Protection Provisions (EPP) were in place to help protect fair wages and benefits for experienced workers in all NYC school bus contracts. EPPs were removed by the previous mayoral administration in 2012.

Since then, new drivers have been forced to work for lower, near-poverty wages, and have been denied pension security. As a result, the city is now facing a shortage of 500 school bus drivers. The shortage was most visible during the start of this school year, when thousands of children were forced to wait on buses for hours as inexperienced drivers and DOE management struggled to navigate new routes in the sprawling, complex system.

However, three years ago, the State Legislature passed a bill to restore EPP, but the Governor vetoed it, citing fiscal concerns. A recent economic study shows that EPP would provide a net savings of $114.8 million to taxpayers in FY 2019-2020, and almost $300 million over the next five years.

“As a former member of the union that represents these drivers and matrons, Amalgamated Transportation Union, I know the value and importance of EPP towards ensuring that school bus drivers are hired based on real-world experience, including a history of safely driving and managing dozens of children of various ages, abilities, and emotional states. Despite their modest wages, drivers and attendants who worked under EPPs had a legitimate opportunity to build a meaningful career, and earn a fair pension,” said Miller.

Constantinides, Richards Resolution Condemns Trump Policy Against Nepalese Immigrants

City Council Member Donovan Richards

City Council Members Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria, parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights) and Donovan Richards (D-Arverne, Bayswater, Broad Channel, Cambria Heights, Edgemere, Far Rockaway, Howard Beach, Jamaica, JFK Airport, Laurelton, Rockaway Beach, Rosedale, South Ozone Park, Springfield Gardens) yesterday formally condemned the Trump administration’s decision to officially revoke later this year temporary protective status (TPS) for thousands of Nepalese living in the United States.

A resolution the Council members introduced at Thursday’s stated meeting calls on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to keep the TPS designation for eligible Nepalese, which will allow them to live and work without fear of deportation.

TPS gives certain protection to immigrant communities fleeing a natural disaster or civil unrest in their respective homeland. Nepal has endured both since a 7.9-magnitude earthquake in April 2015 that killed an estimated 9,000 people and destroyed some 600,000 homes. The event sparked Homeland Security to grant TPS for Nepalese.

Last Spring, the Trump administration decided ahead of the earthquakes’ three-year anniversary, to roll back Nepalese TPS protection effective June 24, 2019. An estimated 15,000 Nepalese are currently protected under TPS nationwide, according to a February 2019 lawsuit filed against DHS in San Francisco. These residents, include an estimated 5,000 across New York City,, according to local advocacy group Adhikaar.

“The Nepalese are vital to New York City’s growth, especially in western Queens. They have come here to seek a better life amid turmoil back home, and they chose the greatest city in the world because we welcome the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses. We will not tolerate ICE agents menacing around schools and courthouses. This is the opposite of what America is supposed to embody,” said Constantinides.

“Our diverse neighborhoods in Queens are our overwhelming strength and the Nepalese community has become a critical part of the World’s Borough. It is completely unacceptable to end their temporary protective status only four years after an earthquake devastated their homeland and left about 15,000 Nepalese in need of safety and security within our borders,” said Donovan.

Addabbo Bill Passes Senate, To Conduct A Study of Homeless Veterans In NYS

Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr.

State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr.’s (D-Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth, parts of South Ozone Park, Ridgewood, Woodside, The Rockaways) applauded Senate passage of a bill he co-sponsored, S. 4049-A, aimed at studying homelessness among veterans in New York State.

The measure will require the Division of Veterans Affairs to conduct a study to determine how many of the people experiencing homelessness in New York are veterans and identify issues specific to veteran women and single parents.

The Office of the New York State Comptroller reported in 2017 that from 2011 to 2016, while New York’s total homeless population grew by 36%, the number of homeless veterans in the state dropped by 78%. Female veterans compromise the fastest growing segment of the homeless veteran population. This study may help identify veteran homelessness issues specific to women and single parents. The bill was delivered to the Assembly and referred to the Ways and Means Committee.

“We must guarantee housing issues are eliminated for our dedicated veterans. When military service is complete, we should not only welcome our veterans back, but work to ensure that everyone has a safe, affordable residence to call home,” said Addabbo, a member of the Senate Committee for Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs.

“Our military, past and present, deserve every opportunity to access affordable housing, employment, proper nutrition, health care, substance abuse care and aftercare, mental health counseling and personal development,” added Addabbo.

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