Queens Lawmakers On The Move Jan. 10, 2020

Queens County City Council News

Gianaris On Closure Of Court Square Library

Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris

Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris (Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside and parts of Woodside, Maspeth, Ridgewood, Woodhaven) yesterday mourned the announcement that the Court Square Library in Long Island City will close as of February 15.

Queens Public Library (QPL) CEO Dennis Walcott made the announcement during a public meeting last Thursday, saying he can’t commit to having a deal in place for the library’s new home by its closing date next month, but he said his team has found two possibilities, according to Patch.

“I am heartbroken to learn of the upcoming closing of the Court Square Library, which is a fantastic and needed resource for a growing community. I was proud to successfully fight to prevent its closure last year for and will continue working with our community and QPL to fight for a new, permanent site for the Court Square Library,” said Gianaris.

Miller Mourns Closure Of Neir’s Tavern & Grill

Assembly Member Mike Miller

Assemblymember Michael Miller (D- Woodhaven, Ridgewood, Richmond Hill, Ozone Park, Glendale) yesterday said he was greatly saddened to hear that that Neir’s Tavern & Grill will close as rent has tripled.

The bar, which has been an institution for the past 190 years and was featured heavily in the movie, “Goodfellas” will have their last call on Sunday.

Neir’s was a staple in the Woodhaven community. Neir’s wasn’t just a watering hole, but an institution in Woodhaven for the past 190 years. Besides being featured in one of the most iconic films in the 20th century, “Goodfellas,” Neir’s brought people together, with their comedy and trivia nights and their annual Halloween parties. It was the Cheers of our town. I want to thank Loy Gordon for owning and operating Neir’s for the past decade and bringing Woodhaven together.

PA Williams Names French As Queens Borough Advocate

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams yesterday named Sabine French as the Queens Borough Advocate.

Sabine has worked on several political and community empowerment campaigns throughout the state.  Her passion is bringing communities together to recognize the strength of collective growth. She is the parent of a New York City public school student and believes that every child deserves a quality education. It is a source of great pride that she organized several Voter Registration and Citizenship Drive events. As a first-generation Haitian-American, she is a strong advocate for immigrants,” said Williams.

The announcement was part of the formation of a Borough Advocacy Unit within the Office of Public Advocate, which is tasked with ensuring that the office has an advocacy presence in each of New York City’s five boroughs, and the needs of each borough are represented within the office. 

The new unit is part of Williams’ vision for an office that champions and is actively engaged with the needs of all New Yorkers in their communities.

“One of my goals as Public Advocate is to make sure everyone knows this office exists to amplify the voices of New Yorkers who often go unheard, and will hold New York City government accountable. This team represents the passion, talent and agency to make this happen,” said Williams. “As I campaigned for this position, I argued that the Public Advocate should have a presence in each borough, and this new unit will show why – our new borough advocates will be demonstrating the importance of engaging with  local neighborhoods and communities, to work with people where they are.”

Schumer, Velázquez Demand FEMA Step Up Response To Earthquakes In Puerto Rico

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer
U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-Queens, Brooklyn, Lower Manhattan) yesterday wrote Pete Gaynor, the Acting Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) demanding the agency act swiftly in assisting fellow American citizens in Puerto Rico in recovering from the recent earthquakes.

The lawmakers also demanded that FEMA use all of the authority granted under the Emergency Declaration to ensure the safety of lives and property across the island, including the speedy completion of preliminary disaster assessments and the prompt approval of other desperately needed levels of disaster aid.

“Our fellow American citizens in Puerto Rico have suffered from earthquakes that have injured and killed residents, destroyed homes and hospitals, and left hundreds of thousands of people without water and electricity,” said Schumer. “I will fight to do everything possible to ensure that this administration does not neglect Puerto Rico as it did in the wake of Hurricanes Maria and Irma. It’s critical that the Trump administration act immediately to provide communities in Puerto Rico the assistance they need and deserve.”

“While FEMA’s disaster declaration is a positive step, it is just the beginning of a long process. Puerto Ricans remember all too painfully how this Administration fumbled and failed in response to Hurricane Maria,” said Velázquez. “During that disaster, incompetence and indifference cost thousands of Americans their lives. The federal government must do better this time and we are letting FEMA know in advance we intend to hold them accountable.” 

Constantinides Calls for Historic MTA Board Reform 

City Council Member Costa Constantinides

City Council Member and Queens Borough President candidate Costa Constantinides (Astoria, East Elmhurst, parts of Long Island City, Woodside) is calling for major reform to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) board that would give each of the city’s five borough presidents a voting appointee on the decision-making body oversees the vitally important mass transit agency. 

“Too often, high-level MTA decisions that significantly impact Queens residents are made by people who don’t live, work, and commute in the borough,” said Constantinides. “Continuing the current structure will only allow the MTA to continue dictating transit plans to us, even though it should be the other way around. We need a mass transit agency that guarantees representation from each of the five boroughs, so that there is a voice who can fight to fill transit deserts and secure better service.”   

Restructuring the board, which would require state legislative action, would be a historic move to bring better mass transit service to Queens, Constantinides argues.

The current board structure includes 16 voting board members with a majority eight seats nominated by the governor. While New York City has four members recommended by the mayor, the Big Apple’s five borough presidents, who essentially function as county executives, have no say on fare increases, billion-dollar budget decisions, or strategic planning, he said.

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