Queens Lawmakers on the Move May 1, 2020

Queens County City Council News

DA Katz Charges Man With Murdering His Mother

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz yesterday announced that a 48-year-old Woodside resident has been charged with murder for slashing his elderly mother in the head with a kitchen knife early Friday, April 24.

The defendant, David Galicia, 48, of 41st Avenue in the Woodside, allegedly said he didn’t know why he did this – but that he woke up, grabbed a butcher knife and stabbed his mother.

“This was an alleged act of matricide with blood splattered on the walls and pooling on the floors in the living room and kitchen. The 78-year-old victim – her body found lifeless on the floor and slumped against a kitchen cabinet – was allegedly killed by her own son. The defendant, who was hospitalized, is in custody and charged in this heinous slaying,” said Katz.

Katz said that, according to the charges, shortly after 7 a.m. on Friday, April 24, police responded to a 911 call to an apartment building on 41st Avenue. There, they allegedly spotted a trail of blood from the building’s entrance to the apartment where Carmelita Cabansag lived with her son, defendant Galicia. 

Inside the apartment, police discovered the 78-year-old woman’s body on her kitchen floor. There were numerous wounds to the woman’s head and a bloody meat cleaver beside her.

Continuing, according to the DA, the defendant was present in the apartment when police arrived and was taken to a hospital for what appeared to be self-inflicted injuries. 

At the hospital, Galicia allegedly told police in sum and substance that he woke up, went to the bathroom and then took a butcher knife to his mother. The defendant allegedly further stated that he did not know why he did this.

Kim Introduces New Nursing Home Legislation

Assemblymember Ron Kim

Assemblymember Ron Kim (D-Whitestone, Flushing, College Point, Murray Hill) and State Sen. Andrew Gounardes (D-Brooklyn) yesterday announced that they will be introducing new nursing home legislation, Bill A.10350, in the wake of a devastating flood of nursing home deaths across the country. 

The proposed law would apply specifically to the administration of residential healthcare facilities during state disaster emergencies relating to a disease outbreak.

In mandates that such facilities:

1) Must maintain adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) and daily record-keeping of their usage

2) Give timely and consistent communication with residents and their loved ones about any suspected or confirmed infections

3) Inform residents of alternative care options, such as home care, that they may pursue; if they opt for such alternatives, the Department of Health will allocate the appropriations needed to secure them

4) Ensure residents and loved ones can communicate at least three times daily

5) To transfer, with DOH support, any COVID-19 patients and find alternative options for those residents and their family members.

Furthermore, the bill requires all facilities to provide detailed daily reports to the state and local health departments on potential disease spread on their premises. For any mismanaged facilities, the State Department of Health Commissioner would also have the authority to appoint temporary operators, who would assume operational control and responsibility.

“Our community continues to reel from anger and disbelief at the negligence and disregard shown on this issue, and the irreparable harm done to nursing home residents in our community, throughout New York, and across America. When I first found out and confronted the Department of Health on this scandal, it was clear that we were not doing nearly enough to protect some of our most vulnerable loved ones in the midst of this pandemic. This legislation, which I immediately started after these problems came to light, may not bring back the countless New Yorkers who died preventable deaths, but it is the bare minimum we can and must do to prevent future tragedies,” said Kim.

Vallone Helps Double Funding for Free Senior Transportation 

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 announced in partnership with Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan) the Free Senior Transportation Program is extended this year thanks to an additional $150,000 in funding. 

This allocation is in addition to the initial $150,000 in funding allocated to the program

 this past fall by the Council Member, Queens Delegation and the Queens Borough President’s office.

Vallone has now increased the budget for this successful program nearly eightfold since 2017, when his office earmarked $40,000 to pilot the program. Most importantly, this critical service remains operational during the COVID-19 crisis. 

“Since my office created the initiative four years ago, the Senior Transportation Program has provided thousands of free rides to and from important medical appointments, and I’m happy to announce that the program will offer this vital service to even more of our borough’s seniors this year,” said Vallone.

To schedule a ride to an essential medical appointment, Queens seniors should call the Selfhelp Clearview Senior Center at 718-224-7888 between 9 a.m. and noon and leave their name and phone number in a voicemail to schedule their next-day rides. The Selfhelp team will return their call and arrange the ride.

Meeks Demands SBA Resolve Technical Difficulties From Accessing PPP Portal

U.S. Rep. Gregory W. Meeks

U.S. Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (D-Jamaica, Laurelton, Rosedale, Cambria Heights, Saint Albans, Springfield Gardens, The Rockaways, JFK Airport) and U.S. Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D) yesterday sent a letter today to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Treasury Department regarding widespread reports by small community banks, Community Development Financial Institutions and Minority Depository Institutions experiencing technical difficulties with SBA’s portal for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). 

Congress appropriated funding for these smaller lenders to distribute PPP so that truly small and local businesses could be better serviced. 

The lawmakers contend that these technical difficulties, which have prevented many small lenders from access the SBA’s E-Tran platform to submit PPP applications, put local small businesses at risk of not being able to access the funds before they deplete, and are a continued example of how SBA has not prioritized small businesses and community lenders.

“The [Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement] Act provides for $60 billion of dedicated funding for the small business customers of these institutions. This is the only way to ensure the availability of desperately needed credit for thousands of American small businesses served exclusively by these institutions. The much-anticipated April 27 relaunch of the PPP was plagued with technical difficulties,” the lawmakers wrote.

“Many smaller lenders have been completely frozen out of the E-Tran system or are able to log in briefly only to be kicked out.  With thousands of loan applications for small community businesses and minority businesses ready for submission, these smaller lenders have teams of staff dedicated to logging in repeatedly in a desperate attempt to help their customers before funds once again run out.”

Meng Pushes for Healthcare Worker Mental Health Resources 

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 led members of the New York congressional delegation in sending a letter to President Trump calling for the next coronavirus relief package to include mental health resources for frontline health care workers responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the correspondence to the President, the federal lawmakers urged that the CARES 2.0 package contain significant funding to support the emotional well-being of health care workers serving on the front lines, so that they, in turn, can remain healthy for their patients.

“Our brave frontline health care workers have been our heroes throughout this pandemic,” said Meng. “They have made enormous and selfless sacrifices, putting their safety on the line to care for patients and save lives. But the stress and anxiety from the exhaustive work they do – treating daily floods of coronavirus patients, high COVID-19 death rates, fear over lack of PPE, long hours, and separation from loved ones – is taking a huge emotional toll on many of these professionals. I have personally spoken with several of these health care workers. I know firsthand how vital it is to provide the resources they and their families need to help with the psychological burden that has been placed on them.”

Gillibrand Urges FCC Notification of Broadband Eligibility

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) yesterday joined a bicameral call to urge the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to work alongside U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to notify new and current Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid recipients of their eligibility for the FCC’s Lifeline Program, which helps low-income families access broadband and telephone services. 

Reliance on connectivity has only increased during the COVID-19 pandemic as Americans across the country face a new reality of day to day to life. Broadband and internet services are now crucial for students to continue their education at home, for people who have experienced job loss or reduction in income to search for employment opportunities and access public benefits, and for patients to stay connected with their health care providers via telehealth services.

“As New York families struggle to keep up with monthly expenses due to this public health crisis, it’s even more important that internet and telephone services are affordable and accessible,” said Gillibrand. 

“The Lifeline Program grants access to these critical services to low-income families and puts us one step closer to closing the digital divide. We must ensure eligible families are aware of these resources. The FCC must work quickly and coordinate with USDA and HHS to inform those eligible of this valuable lifeline.”