Queens Lawmakers on the Move March 24, 2020

Queens County City Council News

Constantinides Calls for Small Businesses to Be Prioritized in Federal Bailout

City Council Member Costa Constantinides

City Councilmember Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria, parts East Elmhurst, Woodside, Jackson Heights) wants small businesses that are suffering due to the COVID-19 outbreak to be a top priority for any future federal stimulus packages, recognizing the invaluable role they play in our local economy.

“We should not put the fossil fuel industry ahead of local small businesses, who right now are struggling to make rent, pay their employees, or survive this crisis,” said Constantinides. “Without support from the federal government, they and their employees will only continue to suffer through this outbreak.” 

Constantinides noted many western Queens small businesses face an uncertain future because of the COVID-19 spread in New York City, where there are now more than 12,000 confirmed cases. Forced closures have left bars and restaurants to do take-out or delivery only to promote social distancing. 

In a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Constantinides implored these small businesses to be prioritized over large corporations. Without cash in their hands or expanded policies to help them get by, he wrote, they face permanent close. That in turn will put hundreds of employees out of work. 

Meng Demands Trump Apologize About “Chinese Virus” Term 

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 said the President’s latest expression of gratitude and concern about Asian-Americans wasn’t enough to offset his hateful terminology about Asian Americans and the coronavirus.

“Are you kidding me? President Trump spews xenophobia about Asian Americans and now, after an increase in threats and attacks, says he wants to protect the Asian American community? He says the spreading of the coronavirus is not the fault of Asian Americans after insinuating that it was?,” said Meng.

“Too little, too late. He must first apologize for his racist rhetoric, and agree to never, ever again use the term ‘Chinese virus.’ Sadly though, I am not confident that this will happen,” said Meng.

Sanders to Host Series of Coronavirus Virtual Community Conversations

State Sen. James Sanders Jr.

State Sen. James Sanders Jr. (D-Richmond Hill, South Ozone Park, Jamaica, Rochdale Village, Rosedale, parts of Far Rockaway) is hosting a series of live, interactive, virtual community conversations on Facebook, each focusing on a different part of his district. 

The topic will be the Coronavirus. Sanders will be providing updates as well as answering constituent questions and addressing their concerns. Stay safe and still be a part of the conversation as we move to a virtual format in light of this global pandemic.

Go to Facebook.com/StateSenatorJamesSandersJr/

Times and neighborhoods are listed below.

Also, make sure you “follow” Senator Sanders at the above link to receive reminder notifications of when he will be going live. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2020 – 4 p.m. – Rochdale Village

Thursday, March 26, 2020 – 4 p.m. – South Jamaica & Springfield Gardens

Friday, March 27, 2020 – 4 p.m. – The Rockaways

AG James Launches Hotline to Combat Coronavirus Hate Crimes 

State Attorney General Letitia James
State Sen. John Liu

State Attorney General Letitia James last week announced the launch of a hotline for New Yorkers to report hate crimes and bias-based incidents. 

The hotline, which will continue indefinitely, comes in the wake of rising reports of harassment and assaults, as well as rhetoric against Asian Americans amidst the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

“As we face an unprecedented and uncertain time for New York, the United States, and the world, we must reiterate the fact that this pandemic does not give anyone an excuse to be racist, xenophobic, or biased,” said James. “No one should live in fear for their life because of who they are, what they look like, or where they come from. I encourage all victims of discriminatory actions stemming from this pandemic to contact my office. We will continue to work with local law enforcement to combat hate in all its insidious forms.”

The initiative also drew support from U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) and state Sen. John Liu (D-Central Queens).

“During this public health crisis, people are fighting for their lives – fighting to keep their families safe. Yet these incessant, irresponsible, and atrocious naming of COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus” or “Wuhan virus” is endangering the lives of Asian Americans. I thank Attorney General James for setting up this necessary hotline for New Yorkers to report coronavirus-related hate crimes or biased-based incidents,” said Meng. “I have repeatedly called on public officials – from the President to the top Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives – to abstain from using derogatory language that demonizes Asian Americans. This must stop. Public officials – and the media – must speak truth to power and refrain from dabbling in misinformation or conspiracy theories. I’m urging all New Yorkers to come together, call virus the coronavirus, and report to the hotline those who would use this uncertain time to make racist, xenophobic or biased attacks.”

“Long scapegoated and cast as “yellow peril”, Asian Americans are besieged on two fronts by the COVID-19 contagion, with outbreaks of ignorance and bigotry sometimes inflicting more harm than the virus itself,” said Liu. “More and more hateful incidents are occurring, ranging from distasteful gestures to obnoxious name-calling to outright violence against Asian-Americans — and despicably condoned by the president himself. The battle against the coronavirus has actually brought out the best among New Yorkers but it is necessary to remind some not to let fear of the unknown devolve into irrational and inexcusable hate, and we thank beloved Attorney General Tish James for leading the charge on this front as well.”

Individuals who have experienced hate crimes and bias-based incidents are encouraged to call the ongoing hotline at 1-800-771-7755, or Email [email protected]  

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