Queens Lawmakers On The Move April 4, 2019

Queens County City Council News

Meng Criticizes Commerce Secretary For Refusing To Testify Before Congressional Committee

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Bayside, Flushing, Forest Hills, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Maspeth, Middle Village, Rego Park), a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies, yesterday criticized Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for refusing to testify before the panel this week.

Ross had been scheduled to appear before the Subcommittee about the Commerce Department’s 2020 budget. But he backed out of the hearing at the last minute.

“Today, Secretary Ross dissed not only Congress, but the American people,” said Meng. “His refusal to show-up and testify was a slap in the face to accountability and transparency, an insult to Congress’ oversight responsibilities, and our system of checks and balances. His failure to appear breaks the norms of Cabinet secretaries coming before Congress to justify the funding they seek for their agencies, and it’s an abandonment of his responsibilities as the Secretary of Commerce. The Secretary’s absence also prevents us from asking important questions that need to be answered about the 2020 census including the underestimating of needed funding, and why he lied to me about the origins of the citizenship question.

“The Secretary’s decision to back out of today’s hearing is completely unacceptable,” Meng added. “I know that I should not be surprised at this administration’s lack of transparency, but Secretary Ross’ snub was nonetheless very frustrating. He may have dodged us today, but we will not let up in our efforts to hold him accountable. The American people deserve better.”

During the Subcommittee’s hearing in March 2018, Ross lied to Meng when she asked him if the President or anybody in the White House spoke to him or his team about adding the citizenship question. He said he was not aware of any discussions, but then a court filing later revealed that the Secretary did talk about the issue with the White House’s then-Chief Strategist Steve Bannon.

The Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies funds the U.S. Census Bureau.

Koo To Host Rain Barrel Giveaway

City Council Member Peter Koo/via Facebook

City Member Peter Koo (D-Bayside, College Point, Flushing, Flushing Meadows, Corona Park, Fresh Meadows, Whitestone) will host a rain barrel giveaway with Queens Botanical Garden and Department of Environmental Protection for residents in Council District 20.

“Or annual rain barrel giveaway is a hugely popular event that gives homeowners an opportunity to save on their water bills while reducing combined sewage overflows and runoff into our storm drains, sewers and surrounding waterways. I encourage my constituents interested in creating a sustainable future for our community to call our office to reserve a rain barrel today,” said Koo.

This year, CM Koo and DEP will give away 200 barrels to Flushing residents by reservation-only. To reserve a barrel, residents are must call Council Member Koo’s office at 718-888-8747. Upon reserving a barrel, residents will be mailed a confirmation letter which they must bring to the pickup event.

The rain barrel giveaway is slated for between 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Sunday, April 14. There is a limit of one barrel per household.

Ramos To Release Street Vendor/Brick-and-MOrtar Relationship Report

State Sen. Jessica Ramos

State Senator Jessica Ramos (D-Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, parts of Astoria, Woodside) today will join the Street Vendor Project at the Urban Justice Center, Make the Road New York, report author, local vendors and local small business owners in releasing a report detailing the relationship between street vendors and brick-and-mortar stores.

The report comes as permit legislation concerning this relationship advances in the city council.

According to the news release, for years, street vendors have been portrayed as marginal actors who “unfairly compete” with more established brick-and-mortar small businesses.

Mayor Bill de Blasio advanced this narrative as recently as December 2017, when he opposed legislation to create more vending permits because it “create[d] an undue amount of competition for brick-and-mortar stores.”

Now, new permit legislation has been introduced at City Council, has broad support, and is scheduled for a hearing on April 11.

The release of the report is slated for 10 a.m., today April 4 on the northeast corner of Roosevelt Avenue and Junction Boulevard in Corona.

Braunstein & Rozic Announce Northeast Queens Transit Improvements

Assembly Member Edward Braunstein

Assemblyman Edward C. Braunstein (D-Bayside) and Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows) yesterday announced upcoming transit improvements including a 20% reduction for a Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) monthly pass for commuters in Northeast Queens, $3 million in funding for increased express bus service, and $6 million for first mile – last mile connections.

The lawmakers reached the agreement during this year’s budget negotiations to offset the impact of congestion pricing on outer-borough commuters.

“A significant number of Northeast Queens LIRR commuters pay over $200 dollars for their monthly pass to travel to Manhattan. I am proud to have joined with Assemblywoman Rozic to secure a 20% reduction for these commuters, which will result in a savings of over $500 a year,” said Braunstein.

Assembly Member Nily Rozic

“Relief in the outer boroughs is long overdue for Northeast Queens transit riders who are far too familiar with increasing fares and travel times. As part of this year’s state budget, it was critical for us to ensure that the needs of our communities were not neglected and that our transit system is fully funded,” said Rozic. “I am grateful for Assemblyman Braunstein’s partnership and look forward to seeing these improvements through their implementation.”

The agreement includes a 20% reduction in the monthly pass for commuters traveling to and from the following stations: Auburndale, Bayside, Broadway, Douglaston, Flushing-Main Street, Little Neck, and Murray Hill. A commuter traveling to and from Penn Station will save nearly $50 a month on their monthly pass. The funding for this fare discount was allocated from the Outer Borough Transit Fund, which was created by the State Legislature last year to assist those who live in areas with limited transit options.