Queens Lawmakers On The Move Aug. 5, 2019

Queens County City Council News

Schumer Calls For Emergency Session To Enact Gun Safety Legislation

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) yesterday demanded that U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) bring the Senate back from recess for an emergency session to take action on gun safety and address the violence that is plaguing the nation.

Schumer’s call comes as an estimated 14,000 people have died as a result of gun violence since the House passed a bipartisan gun safety reform measures in February. It also comes amid this weekend’s horror of El Paso, Dayton, and countless other mass shootings this year alone. 

“America’s citizenry is on the brink, suffering in pain for people they love, communities they call home, and even strangers they have never met. And the mangled tie that binds this suffering, this fear, and this deep worry torturing every corner of the country now is rooted in the proliferation of semi-automatic assault weapons, their all too easy access, and the loopholes that ensure their omnipresence,” said Schumer.

“Tonight, to Leader McConnell, we say: enough must finally be enough. Stop blocking gun safety reforms that more than 90% of Americans have long sought passed. The Majority Leader should, once-and-for-all, do the right thing and gavel the Senate into an emergency session so we can take immediate action on the bipartisan, already-passed gun safety legislation the House sent to the Senate in February,” Schumer added. 

Federal law already requires licensed gun dealers to conduct background checks on gun purchasers and transferees, but this legislation would address a common loophole by requiring unlicensed gun sellers to perform background checks. While federal law prohibits certain people, including those with felony convictions, domestic abusers, and those adjudicated mentally unfit from obtaining or possessing firearms, major loopholes still allow people who should not possess a gun to legally acquire one. 

According to the Giffords organization, up to 80% of firearms used for criminal purposes are obtained without a background check. Schumer points out that while this is not the only action Congress needs to take on guns and violence, passing H.R. 8 is a sensible first step Americans have long begged to achieve.

Meng Blasts Trump For Terminating Haitian & Filipino Vet Programs

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) on Friday blasted the Trump administration for ending the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program and the Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program, which seek to reunite Haitians and Filipino World War II veterans in the U.S. with their family members.  

“This is yet another cruel and heartless decision by the Trump administration. It is unconscionable and further illustrates the President’s anti-immigrant agenda, and shameful practice of separating families,” said Meng..

“The Haitian community has contributed greatly to our nation and Filipino World War II veterans put their lives on the line to serve the United States. These veterans fought under the U.S. command and our flag. They suffered the same torture and horrors the U.S. soldiers had to endure, including the infamous Bataan Death March.

“At the start of the war, these Filipino soldiers were promised full veterans benefits. But by the end of the war, in what was one of the greatest betrayals by our nation, we turned our backs on them and broke that promise.

“The Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program was created to undue some of these injustices by expediting the reunion of these veterans and their families. These veterans are in their 90s, and they deserve to be cared for by their loved ones.

“By ending this program, however, the Trump administration would once again betray these veterans. I urge the administration to reverse course, and not end either of these critical programs.”

Davila, Barnwell Demand JFK Contractor Compensate Pregnant Worker 

Assemblyman Brian Barnwell

Assembly Members Maritza Davila (D-Bushwick) and Brian Barnwell (D- Maspeth, Woodside, Middle Village, parts of Astoria, Sunnyside, Elmhurst, Rego Park, Long Island City) will join a rally tomorrow in a show solidarity for Janice Martin, the customer service agent whom Hallmark Aviation Services forced out of her job when she informed them she was pregnant.

Martin lost her income, subsequently lost her apartment and is now raising her 4-month old daughter in a Queens homeless shelter. Martin filed a pregnancy discrimination complaint against her employer with the New York City Commission on Human Rights and the agency is investigating.

Also joining in the rally are JFK Airport workers, the National Institute for Reproductive Health and Planned Parenthood NYC.  

The rally is slated for 1 p.m., tomorrow, Aug. 6 at in front of 2 Park Avenue, between 32nd and 33rd Streets in Manhattan.

Stavisky, Koo Raise Awareness About Window Safety

State Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky
City Council Member Peter Koo/via Facebook

State Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing) and City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Bayside, College Point, Flushing, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Fresh Meadows, Whitestone), after numerous accidents involving children falling out of windows, on Friday urged parents, building owners and landlords to take steps to ensure that children remain safe in their homes and to raise awareness.

In June, a 3-year-old boy fell from the sixth-floor window of an apartment and onto the third-floor balcony of a neighboring building along 38th Avenue in Flushing.

New York City Health Code requires owners of buildings of three or more apartments to provide and properly install approved window guards on all windows in an apartment where a child (or children) under 11 years of age resides. In many apartments, the residents lack window guards which could prevent children from falling.

“All too frequently we hear tragic stories of accidents that could have been prevented. We need to protect children especially at home by ensuring tenants and landlords understand their responsibility when it comes to window guards. Home should be the safest place for children,” said “Many residents may not know that they are eligible for these devices that can help prevent injuries and fatalities. I urge parents to take this opportunity to protect their child.” 

“With three window falls in such a short time and in close proximity, we want to make sure everyone in our community is aware of the rules and regulations around window guards, and that all homes with young children are appropriately outfitted with this important life-saving equipment,” said Koo. “If residents or landlords have any questions or concerns about their rights or how to install window guards, we strongly encourage them to contact 311 or our offices to make sure their homes are safe and in compliance with the law.”

The two lawmakers created multi-lingual cards for residents on how to obtain window guards. Their offices will be canvassing the Flushing community to make sure residents know their rights. It is important to note that if your landlord refuses to install the window guard, residents can call 3-1-1 and have the City’s Housing Department follow-up with your landlord.

Gillibrand Legislation Would Give Legal Counsel In Immigration Court

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY),  and U.S. Reps. Donald McEachin (D-VA), and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19) on Friday unveiled legislation to guarantee legal counsel for eligible individuals navigating the nation’s complex immigration court system. 

With many of the individuals currently held in the nation’s immigration detention system claiming asylum and other legal protections, the Funding Attorneys for Indigent Removal (FAIR) Proceedings Act would ensure that children, individuals with disabilities, victims of abuse, torture, and violence, and individuals at or below 200% of the federal poverty level can have an attorney during court proceedings.

“The Trump administration has shown that it is far too willing to fast-track deportation cases even when people have credible claims to asylum. Many of these individuals – some of them unaccompanied minors – have fled life-threatening conditions in their home countries and made the dangerous journey to seek refuge in the United States, only to get trapped in a complex legal system without access to a lawyer. With hundreds of thousands of cases backlogged in our immigration courts and tens of thousands locked up in immigrant detention, it’s clear that the current process is not working,” said Gillibrand. 

“My FAIR Proceedings Act would ensure that some of the most vulnerable individuals in this process can be represented by an attorney. This would not only guarantee a more humane way to process asylum claims and other legal protections, but it would improve the efficiency of our immigration courts and help our country do a much better job of managing our immigration system,” she added.

Gianaris Says Fire NYPD Officer Pantaleo

State Senator Michael Gianaris

Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside and parts of Woodside, Maspeth, Ridgewood, Woodhaven) on Friday called for the firing of Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo for killing Eric Garner.

Garner died five years ago in Staten Island after Pantaleo put him in a choke hold while Garner was allegedly selling loose cigarettes. The incident was caught on video with Garner pleading, “I can’t breathe.”

Gianaris call comes after an NYPD administrative judge recommended Pantaleo be fired.

“For five years, the Garner family and people of New York have been denied justice. The judge’s recommendation to fire Daniel Pantaleo demonstrates that she recognizes the need for justice and accountability for the killing of Eric Garner. I urge the NYPD to accept this recommendation and dismiss Officer Pantaleo,” said Gianaris.

Addabbo Continues To Advocate For Therapeutic Horsemanship

State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr.

State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth, parts of South Ozone Park, Ridgewood, Woodside, The Rockaways) recently visited GallopNYC’s Sunrise Stables in Howard Beach in order to speak with the staff and see firsthand the work they do with their therapeutic horsemanship.

During his visit, Addabbo and the GallopNYC staff discussed the different programs they offer at Sunrise Stables and GallopNYC’s other New York locations as well as ways to improve their space and bring their programs to more people.

Located at 80-98 Linden Boulevard, Sunrise Stables provides limited public riding lessons as part of their horse education programs, but more importantly, they have therapeutic programming that uses the proven benefits of therapeutic horsemanship to provide both children and adults with developmental, emotional, social, and physical disabilities a unique way to handle their disability while teaching them new skills.

Aside from working with children and adults, GallopNYC offers free programs for veterans and local seniors.

The trained staff works with veterans on their physical and emotional rehabilitation where they focus on interactions with the horses and build upon improving personal decision-making and self-regulation.

Seniors get the opportunity to socialize with others, learn new skills, work with the horses, and become volunteers with GallopNYC. This program focuses on laying the groundwork and the techniques in leadwalking and sidewalking, to better assist riders during their therapeutic riding lessons.

GallopNYC also offers a Hippotherapy program where a licensed physical therapist works with children while they are riding a horse.

“GallopNYC has two locations in my district — in Howard Beach and Forest Hills — and I am proud to have them,” Addabbo said. “The different programs they provide and the work they do with our veterans and seniors are a blessing for the community. Seeing someone who is in a wheelchair get up on the back of a horse and trot around the field is awe-inspiring. I am happy to be able to work with their staff and help provide them the funding they need to continue assisting the community. I encourage those interested in getting involved with this amazing organization to volunteer.”

For more information about getting involved at GallopNYC as a rider, donor, or volunteer, visit gallopnyc.org, email info@gallopnyc.org, or call 646-233-4507.

Constantinides Announces Expanded Funding for Immigration Services

City Council Member Costa Constantinides

City Council Member Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) Friday announced expanded immigration services for western Queens in the new City budget. 

The services including citizenship training, English language tutoring, and career services are paramount amid harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric by the Trump administration, which has threatened more ICE raids in the five boroughs, said Constantinides. 

“New York City remains committed to taking in the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses — in spite of the Trump administration’s xenophobic immigration,” said Constantinides. “As a first-generation American who came of age basking in the diversity of Astoria, I am committed to making sure our immigrant neighbors get the help they need to fulfill the American dream. This year’s budget sees that promise through to provide more funding to our existing organizations and creates new partnerships.”

Constantinides allocated a total $90,000 to Astoria-based organizations that help immigrants establish a new life here in western Queens. The Ansob Center for Refugees received $85,000, and the Center for the Integration and Advancement of New Americans, or CIANA, was given $5,000 to provide more immigration services — particularly to people from South Asia, Latin America, North Africa, and the Middle East.