Queens Lawmakers On The Move June 20, 2019

Queens County City Council News

Katz Recommends Disapproval Of City’s Current Borough-Based Jail Proposal

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz yesterday issued her recommendations to disapprove the four related Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) applications in connection with the city’s proposed borough-based jail at 126-02 82nd Avenue in Kew Gardens.

In her recommendations, Katz emphatically stated that Rikers Island is an inhumane and dangerous facility that must be closed, while emphasizing her support for borough-based jails that keep individuals closer to their homes, families and support structures.

Katz, however, expressed serious concerns over how the Administration conceived the borough-based jail proposal in its present form, specifically citing a glaring lack of meaningful community involvement in the planning process, as well as the needlessness of a 1,500-bed jail anywhere in Queens while aggressive decarceration efforts to significantly reduce the jail population are underway.

“Closing Rikers Island is a moral imperative in our push to create a dignified, proactive criminal justice system with safe and humane facilities that keep people closer to their families and support structures in their communities. But building massive incarceration facilities that will only replicate the horrific conditions on Rikers Island in direct contradiction to the decarceration reforms already being undertaken is deeply unfair and counterproductive,” said Katz.

“Reforming our city’s jails system is too critical a mission to take on without adequate community engagement or proper planning, as we must strive to avoid recreating the same atmosphere of violence and dehumanization found on Rikers Island upon four new facilities in neighborhoods across the city,” she added.

Gianaris Bill Automatically Registers Voters Receiving Services at a Dozen Agencies

State Senator Michael Gianaris

Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside, parts of Woodside, Maspeth, Ridgewood, Woodhaven) announced yesterday the Senate passed his New York Automatic Voter Registration Act (AVR) (S6457A).

The legislation registers voters automatically upon their interaction with certain state and local government agencies throughout New York.

“At a time in our country when voting rights are under assault, New York must live up to its reputation as a progressive leader,” said Gianaris. “Access to the ballot box should be easy and fair. I thank my colleagues for passing this critical bill.”

Up to 2 million voting-eligible New Yorkers are not registered to vote, which means this AVR proposal would profoundly enfranchise an enormous number of New York residents.   

Under Gianaris’ legislation, New Yorkers who fill out forms at designated agencies will be automatically registered to vote, unless they specifically decline – a process known as “front-end” automatic registration. The agencies include:

  •        Department of Motor Vehicles
  •        Office of Children and Family Services
  •        Office of Temporary Disability Assistance
  •        Department of Health
  •        Department of Labor
  •        Office for the Aging
  •        Department of Veterans Services and Military Affairs
  •        Office of Mental Health
  •        Office of People with Developmental Disabilities
  •        New York Department of State
  •        Workers Compensation Board
  •        Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services

New York routinely has some of the lowest voter turnout rates in the country. In 2018, New York ranked 48th in turnout.

Dromm On City Council Adoption of the FY 2020 Budget

City Council Member Daniel Dromm

City Council Member Daniel Dromm (D-East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights), chair of the Finance Committee, yesterday lauded the city council’s approval of the $92.8 billion FY 2020 city budget, which he said aims to improve quality of life for all New Yorkers, protect those in need and safeguard our City’s future well being.

Because of the Council’s advocacy, this budget includes:

  •         $250 million in budget reserves
  •         $40 million for U.S. Census outreach
  •         $33 million for libraries
  •         $43 million for Parks
  •         285 more school social workers
  •         Double the amount of funding for litter basket pickup

“The FY 2020 budget is a progressive and responsible budget that will move our city forward. It is the culmination of many months of hard work and a statement of our priorities. From increases in funding for our parks and LGBTQ community services to an allocation for additional school social workers, this is a budget that will uplift all New Yorkers. By adding $250 million to city reserves, the FY 2020 budget helps fortify our city against any future economic downturn that might occur,” said Dromm.

Ramos Bill Legalizing E-Bikes And E-Scooters Passes Senate

State Sen. Jessica Ramos

State Sen. Jessica Ramos (D-Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights) yesterday saw the Senate pass her bill, S5294, which legalizes the use of e-bikes and e-scooters in New York.

This bill prohibits the use of e-scooter share in Manhattan and provides municipalities the power to regulate how and where e-scooters can be used on the streets.

“For many of my neighbors who are immigrant delivery workers, using alternative modes of transportation is a matter of livelihood. Legalizing e-bikes and e-scooters is a matter of equal access to our streets and our city. It is a criminal justice issue, a transportation issue, an environmental issue, and a labor issue. I am proud of a bill today that delivers justice to delivery workers who have suffered from crackdowns for too long, while allowing municipalities regulation over their own streets.”  said Ramos

This legislation preserves local authority over their own streets and sidewalks, allowing them to decide for themselves how to integrate these micro-mobility options.

Meng To Host Pelosi In Elmhurst

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Bayside, Flushing, Forest Hills, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Maspeth, Middle Village, and Rego Park) on Monday will host House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in a visit to Elmhurst for a conversation on immigration as part of her ‘Speaker in the House’ series, which seeks to engage communities across the country and ensure that the voices of the American people are being heard in the halls of Congress.

Pelosi and Meng will be joined by immigration activists, immigration advocacy organizations and other stakeholders from across Queens and New York City to discuss policies and legislation aimed at improving the nation’s immigration system. The importance of the census is expected to be discussed as well. The program will include a discussion with audience members followed by a question and answer session.

The event will be held following the recent passage of the American Dream and Promise Act which would allow millions of Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure recipients – including many in the Queens/NYC area – to stay in the U.S.

The bill passed the House on June 4. Following the program, Pelosi and Meng will hold a press availability for media that are in attendance at the event.

The event is slated for 10:40 a.m. to 12 noon, Monday, June 24 at the Elmhurst Hospital Center, Auditorium A1-22 (ground floor), 79-01 Broadway in Elmhurst.

Van Bramer To Cut Ribbon On New Dutch Kills Playground

City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer

City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside) today will join NYC Parks, the Dutch Kills Civic Association, Community Board 1, the Central Astoria Local Development Coalition, and local students, parents, and community leaders for a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the grand opening of the new Dutch Kills Playground.

The nearly $7 million renovation of Dutch Kills Playground is the first major update to this community hub in over 20 years.

The ribbon cutting ceremony is slated for 12 noon, today, June 20 at the Dutch Kills Playground; 36th Avenue and Crescent Street, between 37th and 36th Avenues in Long Island City.