Queens Lawmakers On The Move July 2, 2019

Queens County City Council News

DenDeker, Vanel Join Cuomo’s Call To Investigate Alleged Facebook Advertiser Discrimination

Assemblyman Michael DenDekker
Assembly Member Clyde Vanel

Assembly Members Michael DenDekker (D-Jackson Heights, East Elmhurst, part of Woodside) and Clyde Vanel (D-Cambria Heights, St. Albans, Hollis, Queens Village, Bellerose and parts of Floral Park) yesterday joined Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) in calling on the Department of Financial Services to investigate reports that state-regulated advertisers are using Facebook, Inc.’s advertising platform to discriminate against protected classes.

“The allegations against Facebook advertisers are extremely troubling and fly in the face of everything that New York stands for,” Cuomo said. “I am calling on the Department of Financial Services to investigate these claims and help ensure that New Yorkers seeking housing for themselves and their families are not discriminated against in any way. We will take aggressive action and ensure that those who are behind these reprehensible alleged practices are held fully accountable.”

According to reports, Facebook’s advertising platform allows advertisers to modify or block ads using ZIP code information to exclude consumers based on race, color, national origin, religion, familial status, sex and disability, among other classifications. Facebook touts its advertising platform as a powerful means for housing and housing-related advertisers to reach desired consumers. 

In addition to the specific tools made available to advertisers, Facebook also allegedly uses machine learning and predictive analytics to categorize users to project each user’s likely response to a given ad, which may recreate groupings defined by their protected class.

“Discrimination in any form should never be tolerated, and Facebook’s unique position as a leader in online advertising makes the consequences of discrimination in its advertising practices far-reaching,” said DenDekker, Assembly Chair of Consumer Affairs Committee. “I applaud Governor Cuomo’s decision to direct the Department of Financial Services to pursue an investigation into this very concerning situation.”

“I commend this action by Governor Cuomo. It is very important for New York State to ensure that New Yorker’s data and information is properly protected. Too often there are incidents of information and data malfeasance. This action symbolizes an important step towards protecting our citizens,” said Vanel, Assembly Chair of Internet and Technology Subcommittee.

Meng Urges Census Bureau To Engage South Asian Community 

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) yesterday announced that she sent a letter to U.S. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham urging him to include the South Asian community in the Census Bureau’s outreach leading up to the 2020 Decennial Census.

The Census Bureau—through its 2020 Census Paid Media Campaign—is presently conducting outreach in English and numerous other languages including: Spanish, Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), Vietnamese, Korean, Russian, Arabic, Tagalog, Polish, French, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, and Japanese. But the South Asian population is not included despite growing in size from 3.5 million in 2010 to approximately 5.4 million today.

“I’m shocked that the Census Bureau failed to include the South Asian community in its outreach leading up to the 2020 Decennial Census,” said Meng. “There are approximately 5.4 million South Asians currently residing in the United States, including many in my Congressional district in Queens, and I cannot emphasize enough how imperative it is that we have an accurate count of all living individuals. Director Dillingham must correct this error and immediately include the South Asian population. We have less than a year before the census begins on April 1, 2020.”

Jeffries, Velazquez Address Offensive Border Agents Remarks 

U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries
U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez

U. S. Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-South Ozone Park, Howard Beach, Brooklyn) and Nydia M. Velázquez (D-Queens, Brooklyn, Lower Manhattan) today will host a press conference addressing the vile comments made by U.S. Customs and Border (CPB) agents in reference to immigrants and Hispanic Members of Congress. 

The comments, which were dismissive of the crisis on the southern border and sexually threatening to elected officials, were found in a Facebook group comprised of more than 9,000 current and former CPB agents.

The press conference is slated for 1:45 p.m., today, July 2,  at Foley Square, Lafayette and Centre Streets in Lower Manhattan (map).

Nolan Attends Annual Independence Day Celebration at Astoria Park

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (D-Sunnyside, Ridgewood, Astoria, Woodside, Long Island City, Maspeth, Queensbridge, Ravenswood, Dutch Kills, Blissville) last week attended the Central Astoria Local Development Corporation’s Annual Independence Day celebration at Astoria Park. 

“I am always happy to join Central Astoria at their Annual Independence Day celebration,” said Nolan.  “Congratulations to George Stamatiades, Marie Torniali and Central Astoria for organizing this wonderful event for our community.” 

Central Astoria has been organizing the Annual Independence Day & Fireworks at Astoria Park for 35 years.