Queens Lawmakers On The Move Dec. 20, 2019

Queens County City Council News

Vallone Announces Whitestone Street Co-Naming for Decorated WWII Veteran

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) yesterday saw the city council approve his legislation to co-name 156th Street between 14th Avenue and Cryders Lane, “CPL. John McHugh Way.”

John McHugh, born March 6, 1924, was drafted into the United States Army and served in the First Infantry Division in WWII. He fought at the Battle of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge and received the following awards and recognitions:

  • The Silver Star for gallantry in action
  • Bronze Star for meritorious service, 
  • European Theater of Operations Ribbon, which contains silver arrow head for the Normandy invasion
  • Four Bronze Stars which indicate the major battles he fought in, 
  • Two Presidential Unit Citations for Crucifix Hill and Hurtgen Forest, 
  • Combat Infantry Badge and the Fort Eger given by Belgium for action there during the war

Corporal McHugh passed away on July 21, 2019 at age 95. 

“We as residents of Northeast Queens were blessed to have an American hero like Corporal John McHugh call our great neighborhood home,” said Vallone. “Corporal McHugh was a highly decorated veteran who fought bravely with the Allied powers at the historic Battle of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge, major turning points in World War II. With this co-naming in the spring, we will honor a true man of courage.”

The official ceremony for this co-naming will take place in the spring after Vallone coordinates with the Department of Transportation and the McHugh family to set a date.

Gianaris Hails Nw Elevators Coming To Western Queens

Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris

Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside, parts of Woodside, Maspeth, Ridgewood, Woodhaven) yesterday celebrated the announcement of accessibility improvements to three additional stations in western Queens, bringing the total number of western Queens stations receiving new elevators to five. 

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) revealed that 33rd Street-Rawson Avenue and 46th Street on the 7-line, in addition to Court Square/23rd Street on the E/M-lines would be receiving elevators in the next capital plan. These come in addition to previously announced elevators at Steinway Street on the M/R-line and Broadway on the N/W-line.

“After years of pushing for accessibility improvements, the MTA listened to western Queens residents, activists, and elected leaders advocating for better subway access. These improvements will go a long way to making our subway more accessible to all,” said Gianaris. “While there is still a long way to go in making the entire subway system 100% accessible, these elevators represent a critical step forward.”

Gianaris, a leading voice on transit accessibility issues, wrote a report in 2018 revealing that New York has the least accessible subway system in the United States. He pushed for additional funding for accessibility improvements, pushing the agency to scrap its cosmetic “Enhanced Station Initiative” and calling for those funds to be used instead to improve service and accessibility.

Constantinides Lauds Reopening of the Astoria Boulevard Subway Station 

City Council Member Costa Constantinides

City Council Member Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria, parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights) yesterday lauded the reopening of the Astoria Boulevard N/W station last night, following a nine-month renovation.

“Last night, trains officially began to stop at Astoria Boulevard again. This has been a long few months for a lot of us who use this station, but I’m glad to see the authority kept to its word on finishing this December. Our community will continue to hold them accountable, however, to ensure the elevators are installed on time. Astoria has been an accessibility desert for too long, and we won’t stop fighting until every station in western Queens can be used by everyone,” said Constantinides. 

The MTA closed the Astoria Blvd station in spring 2019 as part of ongoing renovations along the N/W line in Astoria. The original timeline for the project still expects the station’s four new elevators to be installed in 2020.

Constantinides has long called on the MTA to install elevators at every station along the line; the authority announced plans to build them at some stations in the coming years, after losing a lawsuit charging the MTA was not ADA-compliant.

Miller Hails City/State Settlement With Starbucks Over Violations Of Sick Leave Law

Councilmember I. Daneek Miller

City Council Member I. Daneek Miller (D-Cambria Heights, Hollis, Jamaica, St. Albans, Queens Village, Springfield Gardens) yesterday hailed the announcement yesterday that the city and State Attorney General Letitia James reached a settlement with Starbucks, the largest coffee retailer in the world, to resolve violations of the New York City Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law.

Under the terms of the settlement, Starbucks will create a $150,000 restitution fund for all city employees whose Paid Safe and Sick Leave rights were violated and promote public education about the Law

The settlement follows a lengthy joint investigation that included multiple subpoenas, review of records, and interviews with Starbucks workers that found that Starbucks had an illegal sick leave policy that required employees to find a substitute when they used sick leave and that if an employee failed to find that substitute, it could result in “corrective action, up to and including termination of employment.” 

During the investigation, Starbucks corrected its policy and is now compliant with the Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law. The settlement requires Starbucks to pay restitution to current and former employees who were impacted by its illegal sick leave policy, to post an educational poster about Paid Safe and Sick Leave in all New York City stores, to notify all current New York City employees that they are covered by the City’s Law and are not required to find a replacement worker to use sick leave, and to submit a compliance report.

“As Chair of the Committee on Civil Service and Labor, I am pleased that there are tangible consequences for violations to the City’s Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law,” said Miller. “We have worked hard in the Council for worker protections, and today’s announcement will no doubt serve to deter similar violations and educate workers and the public about the law. As always, our hope going forward is that through education and outreach efforts management understands the rules of engagement, and treat workers with dignity and respect.”

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