Queens Lawmakers on the Move April 22, 2020

Queens County City Council News

Sanders Daily COVID-19 Updates

State Sen. James Sanders Jr.

State Sen. James Sanders Jr. (D-Richmond Hill, South Ozone Park, Jamaica, Rochdale Village, Rosedale, parts of Far Rockaway), in his excellent daily COVID-19 updates, noted that the Department of Sanitation (DOS) will temporarily suspend curbside composting service beginning on Monday, May 4. 

The City is suspending service to divert resources to emergency COVID-19 response efforts. Additionally, this crisis, and the resulting decrease in economic activity, have forced the city to make significant budget cuts to maintain emergency services and core municipal services.

Residents should put their food scraps, food-soiled paper, and yard waste in the garbage for the duration of the suspension. Any material set out in a brown bin on or after May 4 will be collected as garbage.

This is a temporary suspension with service expected to resume in July 2021. Residents should keep their bins for when service resumes. DSNY will not take back brown bins. After your last collection, use soap and water to clean your bin and place it in storage for when the program resumes. Do not leave your bins on the curb.

While curbside composting is suspended, you can make compost at home. Download PDFs of educational materials at: nyc.gov/recyclingmaterials. Compost education materials are in the Food Scraps + Yard Waste section.

Sanders also noted the Department of Education is announcing the expansion of its program to address food insecurity during the COVID-19 crisis to now include sites that offer exclusively kosher-certified meals. Three Kosher meals a day will be available to any New Yorker who wants one at ten sites in Brooklyn and Queens.

Currently, both halal and vegetarian meals are available at all Meal Hubs.To find the kosher meal site closest to you, find the full list of sites at schools.nyc.gov/koshermeals.

Sanders also reported the city is offering assistance with funeral expenses: Applications may be submitted online (preferable) or faxed. (HRA staff are in the office Wednesdays only). Families will be contacted by a caseworker. Applications for undocumented persons will be accepted

For further info contact HRA – https://www1.nyc.gov/site/hra/help/burial-assistance.page.

Gillibrand Urges Trump to MOdify IRS Guidelines

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) yesterday urged the Trump administration to modify guidelines that impede access to direct cash payments for millions of low income Americans.

On Monday, the IRS announced that people that receive federal benefits and don’t need to file taxes to receive direct cash payments under the CARES Act — like Social Security retirement, disabled, and survivors insurance beneficiaries, railroad retirement beneficiaries, and veterans — have only until 12 p.m. Wednesday — approximately 30 hours from the announcement — to register child dependents who are eligible for additional $500 payments. 

Those unable to apply by the deadline will have to wait until next year for additional payments. In a letter, Gillibrand criticized the IRS’s short-sighted decision to inhibit millions of Americans, including veterans and social security recipients from accessing their full recovery rebates, and pushed for an extension of at least one month to apply.

“The IRS’ recently announced deadline for registering child dependents impedes the ability of millions of vulnerable Americans, including veterans and social security recipients, to access critical relief funds,” said Gillibrand. “During this time of crisis, the government should be doing everything possible to make it easier for people to receive direct relief, but this short-sighted decision makes it harder. I am urging the Trump administration to modify these misguided guidelines — failure to do so would be irresponsible and negligent.”

Kim Launches Mobile Testing Unit, Hosts Town Hall on Antibody Testing

Assemblymember Ron Kim

Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Whitestone, Flushing, College Point, Murray Hill) today will join colleagues in government including U.S. Rep. Grace Meng, State Sen. John Liu and City Councilmember Peter Koo – all of whom also represent Flushing – to launch Flushing’s first mobile testing program for COVID-19.

The launching is slated for 11 a.m., today, April 22 at the 136-33 37th Avenue Lobby in Flushing. LIVESTREAM AT: www.twitter.com/rontkim https://www.facebook.com/RK4NY/

Later today, Kim will lead a one-hour virtual town hall with leading global experts on the current status of COVID-19 antibody testing. The discussion will center on whether the government can prove immunity in people while protecting their civil liberties and rights.

The global experts include Mike Toutonghi, former Microsoft executive and founder of Microsoft.net platform; Dr. Robert C. Bollinger, Raj and Kamla Gupta Professor of Infectious Diseases at the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) School of Medicine, and he holds joint appointments in International Health at the Johns Hopkins (JH) Bloomberg School of Public Health, and in Community Public Health at the JH School of Nursing.

It also includes Sundar Subramanian, Chairman of IBCC, whose holdings include Cambridge Technology Enterprises, Knome, MTPV, Cambridge Energy Resources, ThriveHive and DNSstuff; Dr. Oren Fuerst, Serial inventor and entrepreneur with vast experience in healthcare and fintech. He is the inventor of more than 20 patents and had led multiple exits based on these and other technologies; Prof Robert Hockett, Edward Cornell Professor of Law; and John Henry Clippinger, Co-founder of The Token Commons Foundation and a Research Scientist at the MIT Media Lab.

The virtual town hall is slated for 5 p.m., today, April 22. Zoom https://us04web.zoom.us/j/241488145 Facebook https://www.facebook.com/apasolidarity/live

Van Bramer Lists Neighborhood Mutual Aid Networks

City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer

City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside) in his e-newsletter yesterday noted that there are a number of people in his district who have banded together and compiled Mutual Aid Networks in our Neighborhood to make sure that people who are in need have what is necessary. 

The networks are as follows:

Van Bramer also announced he part of yesterday at the Queensbridge Houses with the staff of Jacob Riis Settlement House making sure food was delivered as promised by the Mayor de Blasio administration. 

“These men and women deserve our unending gratitude for serving public housing residents,” said Van Bramer.

Dromm on the Cancellation of the Queens Pride Parade

City Council Member Daniel Dromm

City Councilmember and LGBT Caucus Chair Daniel Dromm (D-East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights) said yesterday that while he is saddened that the Queens LGBTQ Pride Parade will be canceled for the first time in its history, he knows that this decision was made for the good of the tens of thousands of people who celebrate it each year.

Dromm’s comments came after Queens Pride, the Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee, in partnership with the City of New York announced that all events and activities slated for June 7 event will not take place as planned. For the last 27 years, the Queens Pride Parade and Festival has signaled the start of Pride month celebrations.

“Pride marches bring visibility to our community and that has always been key to the success of the wider LGBTQ rights movement. This year, we will continue to be visible and celebrate who we are, but will do so in a safe and responsible manner. This will take some creativity and will look very different from past pride months, but I know we can do it,” said Dromm.

“I want to thank Co-Chairs Zachariah Boyer and Mo George plus the entire Queens Pride board for their tireless dedication to the parade. I know that we will once again march down 37th Avenue together next year for what will be an even bigger and more meaningful celebration.”

Meng Introduces Bill to Provide Internet Service During COVID-19 Pandemic

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), a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee that funds federal programs and agencies, yesterday introduced the Emergency Educational Connections Act of 2020 to ensure that students have internet access during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic emergency.

The legislation would create a special $2 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to disburse funds to schools and libraries, and Tribal schools and libraries, to purchase Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and internet-connected devices for students and patrons.

“COVID-19 has forced over 55 million students to stay home during this national health crisis and adjust to a new future that requires internet access and a computer to continue their studies,” said Meng. “Before this crisis occurred, students without internet access at home were part of the so called ‘homework gap’ and struggled to keep up with their peers who have internet access at home. 

“Today, with schools across the country having moved learning entirely online, including class meetings, explanations of new content, virtual field trips, homework, and learning exercises, this gap seems more like a chasm. Students without internet service will fall further behind as students with internet service at home can continue advancing in their studies. Whether they live in urban centers, suburbs, or exurbs, or small communities in rural America, all students require internet connectivity to succeed during this pandemic. I urge my colleagues to support my bill and ensure it is included in the next coronavirus relief package.”

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