Queens Lawmakers On The Move Sept. 20, 2019

Queens County City Council News

Koo, Liu Opens Flushing Creek Waterfront Park

City Council Member Peter Koo
State Sen. John Liu

City Council Member Peter Koo (D-Bayside, College Point, Flushing, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Fresh Meadows, Whitestone) and State Sen. John Liu (D-Northeast Queens) yesterday cut the ribbon officially opening Waterfront Esplanade at Skyview Center on Flushing Creek.

The highly-anticipated opening of the esplanade comes after 18 months of work. The Waterfront Esplanade features beautiful plantings and hardscape/landscape elements and benches. The design came through a focused strategic plan brought forth in a cooperative and collaborative atmosphere and relationship with concerned environmental groups, gardening clubs and schools toward maximum use for positive, recreational and educational programs.

“For too long, our community has been completely cut off from the Flushing Creek. With the opening of this public waterfront esplanade, we are getting a glimpse of what the waterfront of the Flushing Creek from 40th Road to Northern Boulevard will look like in the future. Many thanks to the Shops and Skyview Center, ONEX Real Estate, Senator Liu, Riverkeeper, and all our community partners who have long advocated for a shared public space that connects the Flushing community to its waterfront,” said Koo.

“Generations of kids grew up thinking that the Flushing River only existed in fantasy since none of us could ever get near or even see it. Today’s opening is a huge step towards achieving a lifelong dream of having community access to our Flushing waterfront. People kayak and swim in the Hudson River off Manhattan; no reason why we can’t do the same in the Flushing River – someday soon,” said Liu.

Cuomo Oppose Fed Rule Concerning LGBTQ Workers

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo yesterday announced his opposition to the federal government’s proposed rule change that would broadly expand the definition of “religious exemptions” for federal contractors and make it easier for those entities to discriminate on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression. 

The U.S. Department of Labor’s proposed rule would have devastating consequences for LGBTQ and other workers by depriving them of vitally important workplace protections, according to Cuomo.

“Time and again the Trump administration has gone out of its way to curtail the hard-earned rights and protections of the LGBTQ community,” said Cuomo. “This proposed rule would give federal contractors license to discriminate – plain and simple – and it is repugnant to our values of equal protection for every New Yorker, and we will fight it.” 

Vallone Leads 16-Bill Package To Improve Food Policy

City Council Member Paul Vallone

City Council Member Paul A. Vallone (D-Alley Pond Park, Bay Terrace, Bayside, College Point, Douglaston, East Elmhurst, Flushing, Fresh Meadows, Little Neck, Whitestone), in his role as chair of the Committee on Economic Development, this week led a joint hearing with the Committees on Education and General Welfare where a package of 16 bills and two Resolutions relating to New York City’s Food Policy were heard. 

The bills coincide with Speaker Corey Johnson’s (D-Manhattan) recently announced food platform, which includes expanding existing food programs and tying economic opportunity to farming and nutrition, all under a comprehensive citywide plan coordinated by a newly empowered Office of Food Policy.

Among the bills was Vallone’s measure seeking to increase reporting on the city’s food system. Currently, the Mayor’s Office of Food Policy publishes an annual Food Metrics Report, which provides a snapshot of a variety of city initiatives related to food. However, this report does not provide enough information for the City to adequately tackle food insecurity. For example, the report outlines the number of individuals 65 or older who receive SNAP benefits, but does not track the number of people eligible for public food programs but are not enrolled. 

“In the greatest city in the world, we cannot stand idle while over one million of our New Yorkers face food insecurity,” said Vallone. “This bill will allow us to take an in-depth look at food production, distribution and access in the five boroughs, a critical step in developing the equitable and transformative food policy strategies of tomorrow. I thank City Council Speaker Johnson for bringing attention to this important issue and I am proud to collaborate with him on this impactful piece of legislation and chair this vital hearing.”

At the hearing, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer testified on the specific impact in-depth reporting would have on formulating data to provide better school meals. 

“Our children cannot learn on an empty stomach,” said Vallone. “An in-depth look at the types of meals we are providing to our city’s over 1 million public school students will help us ensure our kids are being served nutritious food that will help them do their best inside and outside of the classroom.”

Other bills considered at the hearing included legislation to create an Office of Food Policy, an Office of Urban Agriculture and a multi-year food policy plan for NYC. The full report, released in August, can be read in full here: http://council.nyc.gov/data/wp-content/uploads/sites/73/2019/08/growing-food-equity-1.pdf

Lancman, Elected Officials Kick-Off Social Justice Art Exhibit

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), elected officials, social justice advocates and local artists today will celebrate the grand opening of the Social Justice Art Exhibit.

The Social Justice Art Exhibit will feature artwork focused on social justice issues and racial discrepancies in the criminal justice system. More than a dozen local artists will have their work on display.

The Social Justice Art Exhibit is organized in cooperation with other electeds representing Jamaica including U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks, State Senator Leroy Comrie, Council Member Adrienne E. Adams as well as from the Greater Jamaica Development Corp, Jamaica Center BID and artist Wanda Best. 

The kickoff is slated for 6 p.m., today, Sept. 20 at the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, 161-04 Jamaica Avenue in Jamaica.