Queens Lawmakers On The Move Nov. 22, 2019

Queens County City Council News

Hyndman Lauds Record High City Students Enrolling In College

Assembly Member Alicia Hyndman

Assemblymember Alicia Hyndman (D-Laurelton, Rosedale, St. Albans, Addisleigh Park, Hollis, Springfield Gardens, Jamaica) yesterday lauded the city’s announcement that a record high of 62 percent of graduating public school students from the class of 2018 have enrolled in college.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza announced this week that it adds up to a record-high 48,782 students – up about  8,000 students since the start of the de Blasio administration and approximately 3,600 students compared to the year prior. 

“I am elated and proud at what Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza have been able to accomplish with their diligence in pushing the Equity and Excellence for All agenda. 48,782 New York City students enrolling in college is no easy feat. It means that our city is working in unison to put our children first and higher education at the forefront. Congratulations to everyone and for their hard work – the dreams of so many are now New York’s reality,” said Hyndman.

Meng Introduces Legislation To Halt U.S. Future Strategic Deployments To Turkey

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng

U.S. Reps. Grace Meng (D-Bayside, Flushing, Forest Hills, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Maspeth, Middle Village, Rego Park) a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Co-Chair of the Hellenic Caucus, announced this week that they have introduced legislation which would prohibit the Department of Defense from using funds to deploy strategic assets in Turkey after 2020. 

The legislation comes in response to the deterioration of U.S.-Turkey relations and on the heels of President Erdogan’s problematic White House visit last week.

Since the 1960s, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has had a nuclear sharing policy where NATO members can host U.S. nuclear weapons as part of a broader NATO nuclear posture. As Turkey develops stronger relations with geopolitical adversaries to NATO, including Russia and Iran, it is time to reconsider any future deployment of strategic assets.

“Turkey—once considered a friend and ally of the United States—has become tangled with the likes of Russia, Syria and Iran,” said Meng. “Turkey’s military incursion into Syria that targeted U.S. Kurdish allies and purchase of advanced Russian antiaircraft missile systems undermine U.S. national security. It is glaringly apparent that the time has come to re-evaluate any deployment of America’s strategic assets in Turkey.”

Velazquez, Meng Lead NYC Delegation Calling For NYCHA Heat This Winter

U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez

U.S. Reps. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-Queens, Brooklyn, Lower Manhattan) and Grace Meng (D-Queens) this week led the New York City Congressional Delegation on a letter to NYCHA Chair and CEO Gregory Russ calling on the Housing Authority to take immediate action to ensure NYCHA residents have adequate heat this winter.

In 2016, the New York City Congressional delegation was successful in passing an amendment as part of the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act, which directed the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to issue federal guidelines establishing minimum heating requirements for federally-supported public housing units such as NYCHA. 

These guidelines were issued on November 19, 2018. Yet despite these guidelines, NYCHA has been unable to keep all of its boilers working and its units at a proper temperature.

In their letter to Chairman Russ, the Members demanded details of NYCHA’s proposed “Action Plan” to provide consistent heat to NYCHA residents.

“Nobody should be forced to endure frigid temperatures,” said Meng. “NYCHA’s troubling history of heating problems has been reckless and unacceptable, especially after we passed minimum heating requirement guidelines into law. My district includes three NYCHA public housing units: Pomonok, Latimer Gardens and Bland Houses. As winter sets in, I demand that NYCHA residents in my district and throughout the city have warm homes during the cold weather. 

“It is simply unconscionable that working families, seniors and other vulnerable neighbors who live in NYCHA facilities are entering the winter months with no assurance we won’t again see widespread heat outages,” said Velázquez. “I’ve authored legislation to make a historic federal investment in public housing, helping reverse decades of disinvestment. However, we must also have transparency and accountability at the local level. NYCHA’s winter heating plan must be approved and released to the public as soon as possible so we know how the agency’s leadership will address these issues.”

Vallone Announces Change to MacNeil Park Cove is in the “Pipeline”

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) earlier this month received word from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) that the existing stormwater outfall pipe facing the East River in College Point’s MacNeil Park will be extended 200 feet beyond the shoreline. 

The project will be managed by the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) and is currently in the design phase.

The forthcoming change is the culmination of years of advocacy from Vallone and local nonprofit Coastal Preservation Network and fellow marine biologists, who obtained a state Department of Environmental Conservation permit to establish and restore an oyster reef, seagrass and other marine life that now thrives at this formerly polluted cove. 

Over the last two years, Vallone co-hosted multiple conferences between DEP officials and local stakeholders seeking to achieve a sensible outcome. While the pipe functions to improve water quality and local stormwater drainage, the long term health of the local marine life at the cove was at risk and the beach suffered erosion.

The stormwater outfall pipe installation in 2017 was part of a much larger $132 million infrastructure upgrade that is preventing flooding in College Point and reducing the amount of pollution discharged into Flushing Bay and the upper East River. Completion of the larger project will result in the closure of three existing combined sewer outfalls and prevent the release of nearly 50 million gallons annually of combined sewer overflow – a mix of untreated sanitary sewage and stormwater, according to DEP. 

“Our wetlands are a critical part of our natural ecosystem and play a key role in fostering a healthy marine environment for future generations,” said Vallone. “I am relieved to learn that the outfall pipe at MacNeil Park will be extended and relocated away from this thriving ecosystem, which activists like the Cervinos have worked so hard to protect.  I thank the Cervinos for their continued advocacy and the DEP for listening to the community’s concerns and revisiting this project.”

Van Bramer Makes Pitch For Support On Housing Issues

City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer

City Council Member and Queens Borough President Candidate Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside) is making a pitch for Queens residents to sign up for a newsletter that proclaims affordable housing as a key issue.

“New York City has an affordable housing crisis, and this fight is personal. Growing up, there were times when my family was homeless. We had personal struggles, and we learned the cruelty of some landlords firsthand,” said Van Bramer in his e-newsletter.

“Affordable housing is a human right, but it’s something that’s out of reach for many families. And the forces of corporate greed are making the problem worse. Too many New Yorkers are a single paycheck away from eviction — and given the shortage of affordable housing, there are very few alternatives.

“There are clear steps we can take. We must re-invest in NYCHA. Strengthen rent regulation. And shift our tax policies so that corporations and billionaires, not our communities’ most vulnerable members, are shouldering the burden in solving this crisis.

If you agree that every New Yorker should have the right to stable housing, add your name to mine,” he added.

Koo To Deliver Over 500 Turkeys To The Community

City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Bayside, College Point, Flushing, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Fresh Meadows, Whitestone) is partnering with local organizations and businesses to distribute over 500 turkeys as part of his annual turkey giveaway to help families in need this Thanksgiving.

Koo will deliver turkeys to 20 senior centers, community groups, and faith-based organizations. Also joining in is the Flushing Chinese Business Association, the Glow Foundation, the Flushing Central Lions Club and the American Foods Merchant Alliance.

The giveaway is slated for 10:30 a.m., today, Nov. 22 in the basement at the CPC Nan Shan Senior Center, 133-14 41st Avenue in Flushing.