Queens Lawmakers On The Move Sept. 5, 2019

Queens County City Council News

Meng Against Elimination Of Gifted & Talented Program

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 came out strongly against a recommendation to eliminate all Gifted & Talented programs in the city’s public schools.

The School Diversity Advisory Group, a task force that the de Blasio Administration empaneled to study school diversity made the recommendation last week. Currently, G&T programs are open to all kindergarten to fourth-graders that are deemed extremely intelligent through verbal and nonverbal assessment tests and score above the 90th percentile. 

“Gifted and talented programs provide students with rigorous and challenging curriculums that help them reach their full potential in the classroom. We should not do away with them. Instead, we should be expanding G&T seats in all areas of the city and improve the testing process, so that children in every community can benefit from all that these important programs have to offer,” said Meng.

Lancman Supports Kew Gardens Rezoning

City Councilman Rory Lancman.

City Council Member Rory I. Lancman (D-Kew Gardens Hills, Pomonok, Electchester, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, Jamaica Estates, Briarwood, Parkway Village, Jamaica Hills, Jamaica) threw his undivided support for the Kew Gardens Hills rezoning moved forward following a key hearing on the issue this week before the City Council Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises. 

The proposed rezoning will allow affected homeowners to expand their homes as their families grow. The proposal will rezone the affected area from R2 to R2X, which will increase the floor area ratio from 0.5 to 1.02 and impose maximum building heights of 35 feet. 

Effectively, the proposal gives homeowners the opportunity to expand single-family homes approximately 10 feet into their backyards and 3 feet on either side while setting a height cap that will maintain the single-family-home character of the neighborhood. 

“We want to keep Kew Gardens Hills families in Kew Gardens Hills,” said Lancman. “This rezoning allows homes to grow to meet their owners’ needs. I am proud to shepherd this rezoning through the Council, and am grateful for the support of the Kew Gardens Hills Civic Association, Community Board 8, and the Borough President.”

The rezoning is expected to come before the full city council for a vote later this month.

Addabbo Decries Anti-Semitic Graffiti

State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr.

State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth, parts of South Ozone Park, Ridgewood, Woodside, The Rockaways) this week decried the anti-Semitic graffiti found in the Rockaways over the weekend.

“These are not just crimes of vandalism, they are clearly crimes of hate plain and simple,” said Addabbo. “Anti-Semitic rhetoric has once again reared its ugly head and has reached our neighborhood on the Rockaway Peninsula. I denounce these terrible acts.”

Addabbo also commended Gov. Cuomo for sending the state Hate Crimes Task Force to investigate this incident. 

“As the world’s most diverse borough, we in Queens need to come together and let everyone know that hate has no place in our communities,” the lawmaker added.

Schumer, Gillibrand Condemn Trump For Using Military Funds For Border Wall

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, yesterday decried the Trump administration’s decision to redirect $3.6 billion in funding for military construction projects across the country for the construction of a border wall. 

U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper notified Congressional members of this decision two days ago and the DOD confirmed that this includes $160 million in repurposed funding allocated for an engineering center and supporting structures at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

“The president is stripping billions of dollars of funding needed to support our service members at installations like West Point, in order to build an ineffective and misguided southern border wall that he promised Mexico would pay for. This is a slap in the face to the members of the Armed Forces who sacrifice so much to defend our liberty,” said Schumer. “The United States Military Academy at West Point was founded as an engineering school, designed to ensure that our Army’s leaders had access to the best resources and education that would enable them to succeed in their military careers in defense of our nation.”

“Constructing a wall at the Southern border would be a waste of taxpayer money that will do nothing to advance our national security interests. President Trump is now stealing money from West Point and 126 other military installation projects across the country in order to work around Congress and build this needless vanity project. Diverting this defense funding eliminates mission-critical facilities, placing our national security at risk and limiting the military’s ability to compete with our country’s most powerful adversaries,” said Gillibrand.

OEM Holds Pet & Animal Preparedness Fair

The city’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) today together with the City’s Animal Planning Taskforce, which include the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, will host a preparedness fair to help educate pet owners about the importance of preparing pets for emergencies.

OEM staff members will be on hand to distribute a range of emergency materials and share preparedness tips with pet owners. Residents will learn about the items to include in their pet’s Go Bag as well as how they can incorporate their pets in the family’s emergency plan.

Representatives from the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, FDNY, and other partner organizations will also be present.

The event comes as September is National Preparedness Month. During the month, OEM will team up with City agencies and community partners to organize and promote a number of events for the entire family, including children, older adults, and pets, as well as inform New Yorkers and their communities about the steps they can take to prepare.

The event is slated for between 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. today, Sept. 5 at Union Square Park at 14th Street in Manhattan.