Brooklyn Lawmakers On The Move April 4, 2019

News Site Brooklyn

BP Adams Applauds Lawsuit Against USDA’s Changes in School Lunches

Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams

Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams applauded a recently filed multi-state lawsuit against the  U.S. Drug Administration’s (USDA) changes to school lunch guidelines.

On Wednesday, New York State Attorney General Letitia James led a coalition of six state including the District of Columbia in suing the Department of Agriculture, saying it weakened nutritional standards in school breakfasts and lunches when it relaxed the requirements affecting salt and refined grains last year.

The lawsuit in Manhattan federal court asked a judge to overturn the changes, saying they were carried out in an arbitrary and capricious manner. The states and D.C. said the standards should be based on recommendations of the U.S. government’s “Dietary Guidelines for Americans,” the National Academy of Sciences and scientific research regarding children’s nutrition.

The USDA school lunch program provides low-cost or free lunches and breakfasts in public schools and other institutions. Last year, it served an estimated 30 million children, according to ABC 7 NY.

“Our country is feeding the health care crisis facing millions of Americans every single day. The National School Lunch Program establishes a minimum standard of nutrition requirements that, in fact, fall significantly short of what our young people need to avoid the pipeline to chronic disease that awaits so many, particularly if they live in food deserts. It is unconscionable that we have to fight to hold that standard, but it is with great gratitude that I thank Attorney General James for standing on this legal battlefield alongside our children and families,” said Adams.

Gounardes Welcomes Chair of State Senate Committee On Transportation To SD 22

Andrew Gounardes
State Sen.-Elect Andrew Gounardes

State Senator Andrew Gounardes (D-Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach, Gravesend) yesterday announced that he alongside Timothy M. Kennedy (D-Buffalo), Chairman of the State Senate’s Committee on Transportation, will visit various sections of Senate District 22 this week.

Following the tour, the Senators will join a roundtable discussion with members of the Southern Brooklyn Pedestrian Safety Task Force, launched by Gounardes in January, to discuss widespread issues affecting pedestrians/bicyclists, including deteriorating infrastructure, motorists blocking bike lanes, and other pedestrian safety concerns.

Gounardes, whose district in southern Brooklyn has been plagued by ongoing safety issues, has been a leading voice in advocating for safety reforms. To date in 2019, the number of fatal collisions, and injuries caused by cars colliding into cyclists and pedestrians, increased in the Bensonhurst and Bath Beach portions of SD 22 — neither of which has any bike lanes — when compared to the number of similar incidents within the same time span last year, according to reports from the Brooklyn Paper from city data.

Motorists killed three people, injured seven cyclists, and hurt 37 pedestrians on streets in those parts of the pol’s district this year, according to the statistics, which reported drivers killed no one, injured four cyclists, and hurt 36 pedestrians in the same time period last year.

The roundtable discussion is slated for 2:30 p.m., today, April 4, at Brooklyn Community Board 19, at 8110 5th Avenue in Bay Ridge.

 Malliotakis, Ortiz Successfully Restore Funding to Veterans’ Programs

Assembly Member Nicole Malliotakis
Assembly Member Feliz Ortiz

Assembly members Nicole Malliotakis (R,C,I-South Brooklyn, Staten Island), Felix Ortiz (D-Sunset Park, Red Hook) Michael Reilly (R-Staten Island) yesterday announced the restoration of funding to veterans’ programs in New York State following Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed $4.8 million cut to veteran services.

The original cuts included a $3.7 million cut to the Joseph P. Dwyer Program, a peer-to-peer counseling and mental health program, and a $1.1 million cut from the Veterans Benefit Advising Program, which assists New York State Veterans, service members and their families to ensure they receive the benefits they earned in service. In addition to having their voices heard in calling for these state-wide restorations, the pro-veteran legislators were also successful in securing $300,000 in additional funding for a peer-to-peer counseling pilot program in New York City.

The news comes just weeks after Malliotakis started pressuring Albany alongside Assistant Speaker Ortiz and Reilly to not cut the vital state dollars.

“While I ultimately voted against the majority of the state budget, I could not have been more proud to support legislation which included funding for these programs. There is no better silver lining to this year’s budget than having comfort in the fact that New York State is providing for the men and women who sacrifice the most for our citizens. I will continue to fight for them always,” said Malliotakis

“Peer to peer veterans’ programs are critical to addressing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). I support these model programs so that veterans can transition into civilian life, find gainful employment, and enjoy life at home with loved ones. New York State should support this program. We owe so much to our veterans for their service,” said Ortiz.

Colton Celebrated Women’s Month With Women of Distinction Award Ceremony

Assembly Member William Colton

Assembly member Williams Colton (D-Gravesend, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, and Dyker Heights) in  conjunction with United Progressive Democratic Club President Nino Magali and 47th Assembly District Leader Nancy Tong hosted this year’s 2019 Women of Distinction Award ceremony and luncheon.

At the event, held back in March, over 150 people came to celebrate the Women of Distinction event including Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., a representative from Congressman Max Rose, Zunar Ahmed, and Ari Kagan from Scott Stringer’s New York City Comptroller Office attended the ceremony.

The annual event is dedicated to recognizing extraordinary women in New York City who are blazing new trails in their fields and motivating and inspiring women across the country to pursue their dreams.

“I am very proud that the 2019 Women of Distinction Award ceremony was so diversified and we had so many extraordinary women as our honorees. I was astonished with the performance of the Pesvebi Georgian Cultural Center. Once again yesterday’s affair showed that no matter what your background is, if we work together and learn more about each other’s culture, it would keep us all unified,” stated Colton.

Weinstein Urges US Supreme Court To Axe Citizenship Question From 2020 Census

Helene Weinstein
Assemblymember Helene Weinstein

Assembly member Helene Weinstein (D-Sheepshead Bay, Flatlands) joined over 150 bipartisan state and local elected officials and municipalities around the country in challenging the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census this week.

On Monday, April 1st an amicus brief was filed in support of plaintiffs in Department of Commerce v. New York, currently before the U.S. Supreme Court. It addresses whether a citizenship question should be added to the 2020 census, a controversial move by the federal government. 

The U.S. Census, conducted every 10 years, is vital to determining the allocation of more than $900 billion of federal funding. In March 2018, the Commerce Department led by Secretary Wilbur Ross, announced that the upcoming census would include a citizenship question for the first time since 1950. The department officials claim the question will help to enforce the Voting Rights Act.

Since the announcement, many critics and immigrants worry that the information obtained from the question could be used against them which could result in inaccurate data. The lack of accurate census data has many local lawmakers worried about the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars away from programs that support public education, nutrition, healthcare, victims of crime, community development, rehabilitation centers and unemployment insurance, among so many others.

Weinstein has urged the Supreme Court to affirm the decision of the lower court rejecting the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census and ensuring the proper allocation of federal funding to the communities and individuals who need and rely on the federal dollars. 

“In order for us to deliver a concise and accurate census count, we cannot include queries that would lead some to reconsider participating. An inaccurate census would create an imbalanced distribution of vital funding and, while the census is necessary, certain question would be prying for information unnecessary to getting care of those who need it,” said Weinstein.