Queens Lawmakers On The Move Aug. 28, 2019

Queens County City Council News

Katz Issues Open Call For Next Queens Poet Laureate

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz yesterday announced the deadline to apply to be the next Queens Poet Laureate is extended until Friday, September 20.

“Queens seeks a Poet Laureate capable of crafting thought-provoking poetry that addresses universal themes and shows an abiding affection for our diverse borough,” said Katz. “The extended application deadline will give more of our borough’s talented and creative residents the opportunity to put themselves forward as candidates for this esteemed and important position.”

The application process is open to published poets who are currently Queens residents and have lived in Queens for at least two years. Applicants must submit a writing sample of up to ten pages of their poetry, along with an essay of up to 500 words on why the applicant wants to be the next Queens Poet Laureate. 

Applicants must also submit a one to two-page résumé focused on their poetry-related work (such as the publications where their work has appeared, along with any public readings they have done and any grants, fellowships, awards or other poetry-related honors they have received).

Applications for the unpaid position are being accepted online at www.queensbp.org/poet until 5:00 p.m. EDT on September 20, 2019. Applicants must be published poets and residents of Queens. The winning candidate will be a talented writer who can demonstrate a compelling vision for the role of Queens Poet Laureate.

Cuomo Looks For Construction Management Partner For JFK Redevelopment

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo yesterday announced a request for proposals (RFP) to solicit bids to provide expert professional construction management for the John F. Kennedy International Airport Redevelopment Program on an “as-needed” basis. 

The RFP that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey released aims to secure a qualified firm to assist in the oversight of the performance of all contractors for the entire JFK Redevelopment Program. 

The selected firm also will provide construction management and coordination services with other ongoing construction projects related to the JFK Redevelopment Program.

“As we continue to advance the transformation of JFK Airport into a modern, world-class transit hub, we want to ensure that we have a proven partner on our side to help oversee and assess the progress we are making,” said Cuomo. “JFK is the international entry into New York State, and to enhance this major infrastructural undertaking, we are looking for management firms capable of executing the vision we have laid out.”  

The Port Authority is also committed to meeting the Governor’s nation-leading goal of 30-percent utilization of Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises (MWBE), which applies to contracts, subcontracts, and financing interests. 

Koo Opposes Proposal To Eliminate Gifted & Talented Programs

City Council Member Peter Koo

City Council Member Peter Koo (D-Bayside, College Point, Flushing, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Fresh Meadows, Whitestone) yesterday said the Mayoral School Diversity Advisory Group’s proposal to eliminate the city’s Gifted and Talented programs is misguided and he is against it.

The proposal seeks to get rid of the gifted and talented program because they are mainly white and Asian, while the city’s public student body is mainly black and Hispanic. The recommendation comes as City Council Member Robert Cornegy (D-Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights) has been trying to get more G&T programs in his mainly black district.

“I wholeheartedly condemn today’s report calling for the elimination of NYC’s gifted and talented programs. These classes are coveted by many students and parents throughout the city and need to be expanded if anything, not eradicated,” said Koo.

“Yet, instead of working to increase access for students in underserved communities, this proposal seeks to completely remove all opportunities to an advanced education. Increasing diversity and expanding access to higher education should not mean scapegoating success. I urge the Mayor to reject this proposal,” he added.

Cuomo Orders Broadening National Grid Investigation

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo yesterday issued a letter directing the Department of Public Service to broaden its investigation into National Grid’s refusal of service. 

The letter comes as Cuomo and National Grid remain deadlocked over the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s rejection earlier this year of a National Grid proposal to build the 37-mile Williams Cos Inc’s Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) pipeline that would tap into an existing pipeline stretching from Pennsylvania to New York City.

According to National Grid, the pipeline has become an urgent need, as the economy in New York City is booming, and their current pipeline is at capacity. Thus, they imposed the moratorium meant to prevent a gas shortage during colder days which would result due to the lack of NESE.

In the letter, the Governor directed DPS to ensure National Grid immediately provides service to customers who were improperly refused service and impose penalties and sanctions, as appropriate. If National Grid is unable to provide safe, affordable and reliable service to these existing customers, the Governor has directed DPS to consider alternatives to National Grid as a franchisee for some or all of the areas it currently serves.

Addabbo, Pheffer Amato Bring E-Waste Recycling Event To Rockaways

State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr.
Assemblymember Stacey Pheffer Amato

State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo (D-Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth and parts of South Ozone Park, Ridgewood, Woodside, The Rockaways) is once again partnering with Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Broad Channel, Hamilton Beach, Howard Beach, Lindenwood, Ozone Park, the Rockaway Peninsula) and the Lower Eastside Ecology Center to bring an e-waste recycling event to the Rockaways early next month.

“These recycling events are some of the most popular events of the year, as it gives people within my district to properly dispose of their unwanted or broken electronics without facing a fine for putting them with their normal garbage,” Addabbo said. “I am glad we were able to again bring this fantastic service to the Rockaways to allow our constituents to recycle their electronics at a location in their own community. I would like to thank Stacey for joining me, and the staff at the Lower East Side Ecology Center for helping to make this event possible.”

“Electronic waste is a major environmental hazard.  Too many people just drop computer parts and electronics in the garbage. If e-waste isn’t processed the right way, it can poison sanitation workers and our water supply,” Pheffer Amato said. “That’s why events like these are so important, and why I am so excited to partner with Senator Addabbo and the Lower East Side Ecology Center to bringing this event to Rockaway.”

The recycling event is slated for between 10 a.m.- 4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 7 at St. Camillus, 99-15 Rockaway Beach Boulevard. The trucks for recycling will be located in the parish’s back parking lot off Shorefront Parkway, between 99th and 100th Streets.

PA Williams Addresses NYPD Mental Health 

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams

Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams yesterday held a roundtable discussion with representatives from policing organizations to address officer mental health following a recent increase in New York Police Department suicides.

Nine NYPD officers have lost their lives to suicide this year, an increase from a previous average of four to five annually.

The roundtable brought together a coalition of NYPD officer fraternal organizations including the National Latino Officers Association, the Grand Council of Guardians,  the NYPD Guardians Association, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement. Also in the conversation were the Police Benevolent Association and mental health advocacy organization Samaritans NYC. 

Attendees candidly discussed daily stressors faced by New York City police officers – their members – including:

  • Pressure to meet ‘performance goals’ 
  • Broadly held perceptions of police officers nationwide. 
  • The Department’s lack of flexibility in meeting officers’ personal requests/needs e.g, changing shifts, precinct reassignments etc.
  • Lack of a system to track complaints about supervisors
  • The stigma and consequences attached to officers asking for mental health support, and;  
  • Officers being “psyched out” of career advancement and even the NYPD

“Suicides are up around our nation and NYPD officers suicides are among the highest, especially this year. This conversation, this press conference, is not meant to be a harsh criticism of the department on this issue. This is about moving away from stigma and moving toward solutions that can save lives,” said Williams after the roundtable. “We have a mental health crisis, and we need to meet the very human and personal needs of men and women who police our communities.”

Several ways to address the crisis were raised within recurring themes that included:

  • The creation of an independent support system that allows officers to seek help anonymously. Currently, according to attendees, there are reporting mandates when officers seek mental health support.
  • Creating career mentorship programs within the department.
  • Normalizing conversations about mental health and creating opportunities for regular check-ins, and;
  • De-stigmatizing officers and programs that support those who ask for help

Williams has been an outspoken advocate for mental health services, and shares his own experiences in order to help reduce stigmas surrounding mental health. 

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