Queens Lawmakers On The Move Jan. 6, 2019

Queens County City Council News

Meng Stands With Jewish Community In Fighting Anti-Semitism

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 took part in the “No Hate. No Fear.” Solidarity March against anti-Semitism and hate. 

The event began in lower Manhattan with participants marching over the Brooklyn Bridge to Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn.

“Today and every day, I stand in solidarity with the Jewish community in combating the scourge of anti-Semitism and hate,” said Meng. “The spate of anti-Semitic hate crimes that our Jewish communities have faced and endured over the last year has threatened the foundation of our city, which thrives on religious freedom. We must all stand up and be united in denouncing this unacceptable spike in anti-Semitic attacks, and make clear that these cowardly acts will never, ever be tolerated. But we need more than words and condemnations. We need action and resources, and we cannot rest until we use every tool at our disposal to eradicate all forms of intolerance and bigotry. Enough is enough.”

Meng noted that one of the major resources to help houses of worship (synagogues, churches, mosques, temples) and nonprofit entities improve security and guard against threats and attacks has been the Department of Homeland Security’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program. 

As a member of the House Appropriations Committee – the panel responsible for funding every federal agency, program, and project within the U.S. government including the Nonprofit Security Grant Program – Meng has helped to increase funding and awareness for these grants over the past several years, including last month when she played a critical role in boosting the annual amount to $90 million.

On a related note, Meng is presently drafting legislation that seeks to improve coordination between local and federal law enforcement in targeting and reporting hate crimes, to make sure that acts of anti-Semitism are being handled appropriately at the federal level.

Cuomo Announces $45 Million In Addition Funding To Protect Religious-Based Institutions

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo at yesterday’s “No Hate. No Fear.” Solidarity March from Lower Manhattan into Brooklyn announced an additional $45 million in funding is available to help protect New York’s religious-based institutions, including non-public schools and cultural centers, against hate crimes. 

Funding is being made available through Requests for Applications under New York’s Securing Communities Against Hate Crimes Grant Program. Created by Governor Cuomo in 2017, the program provides funding to strengthen security measures and prevent hate crimes against non-profit daycare centers, community centers, cultural museums, day camps and non-public schools, which may be vulnerable because of their ideology, beliefs or mission. 

Since the program’s inception, more than 500 such projects have been supported by $25 million in state funding. The Governor also announced the creation of a new tip line that New Yorkers should call if they experience bias or discrimination – 1-877-NO-HATE-NY. Additionally, the Governor announced that State Police will continue increased patrols and security in Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods across the state.

“The recent rash of anti-Semitic and other hate-fueled attacks in New York and across the nation are understandably causing anxiety, but we will not be intimidated,” said Cuomo. “In New York we stand up to those who try to sow division and fear, and this new funding will provide religious and cultural institutions the support they need to help protect themselves and keep people safe. We will not let the cancer of hate and intolerance weaken us – we will continue to stand up and denounce it every time it rears its ugly head.”

The grants, which will be directed by the New York State Division of the Budget, provide up to $50,000 in funding for additional security training, cameras, door-hardening, improved lighting, state-of-the-art technology and other related security upgrades at each eligible facility. Organizations that operate more than one facility have the opportunity to submit up to five applications.

Braunstein Sponsors 24th Annual Valentines For Vets Gift Drive

Assembly Member Edward Braunstein

Assemblyman Edward C. Braunstein (D-Bayside) and the Law Offices of Ann-Margaret Carrozza announced on Friday they are sponsoring the community’s 24th Annual Valentines for Vets gift drive.

“We are collecting donations of cards, candy, playing cards, puzzles, shaving cream, toothbrushes, toothpaste, or new clothing items such as pajamas, robes, slippers, and socks for the hospitalized and disabled veterans at the St. Albans VA Community Living Center and the New York State Veterans’ Home at St. Albans. I am proud to once again sponsor such a long-standing Northeast Queens tradition,” said Braunstein.

The deadline to make donations is Wednesday, February 12. If you are interested in participating and would like to receive further information, please contact Assemblyman Braunstein’s office at 718-357-3588 or the Law Offices of Ann-Margaret Carrozza at 718-224-4746.

Gifts can be dropped off at Braunstein’s office, 213-33 39th Avenue, Suite 238 in Bayside or at the Law Offices of Ann-Margaret Carrozza at 213-38 40th Avenue; or Community Board 11 at 46-21 Little Neck Parkway.

Constantinides Calls on NYPD to Suspend Confiscating E-Bikes 

City Council Member Costa Constantinides

City Council Member Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria, parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights) on Friday called on the New York Police Department to cease confiscating “e-bikes” and “e-scooters” used for deliveries and issuing $500 summonses to riders. 

Constantinides’ request comes in response to the delayed action by Albany to allow cities to legalize these vehicles, which have rapidly become part of New York City’s streetscape. 

“Dense neighborhoods, like here in western Queens, should be a safe space for e-bikes and e-scooters to meet the growing demand of food deliveries,” said Constantinides. “While I was disappointed to see the state bill to create a pathway to legalization was vetoed, I’m confident our partners in Albany will continue this necessary work. In the meantime, we stop punishing delivery workers for something that may no longer be illegal in a few months.”

Governor Cuomo recently vetoed a bill overwhelmingly passed in the legislature last June that would’ve enabled cities to regulate the bikes and scooters. Although the Governor signaled a willingness to work with the Senate and Assembly on a new bill, such a process has the potential to last until session ends in June. A City Council bill legalizing e-bikes and e-scooters cannot move forward until Albany acts. 

Constantinides, in a Jan. 2 letter (attached) to Commissioner Dermot Shea, argued workers who rely on pedal- and thruster-assisted bikes and scooters shouldn’t be punished for riding the vehicles to make deliveries. Continued enforcement of the existing ban has had a significant negative impact on delivery workers, many of whom are immigrants who personally own the vehicles. Constantinides argued that the City should instead focus on how the vehicles will interact with cars, pedestrians and other cyclists once they’re legal.  

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