Queens Lawmakers on the Move May 6, 2020

Queens County City Council News

DenDekker to Distribute Free Meals to NYC Sanitation Workers 

Assemblyman Michael DenDekker

Assembly Member Mike DenDekker (D-Jackson Heights) and New York City Department of Sanitation Director of Cleaning and Collection Chief Edward Grayson will be distributing vouchers for free meals to Department of Sanitation workers in Woodside tomorrow.

The vouchers are being supplied by UberEats in conjunction with the Kiwanis Club of Jackson Heights, and are being given as a thank you to members of the New York City Department of Sanitation that serviced some of the hardest-hit areas of New York City.

“Once again, this city and my community owe a debt of gratitude to the members of the New York City Department of Sanitation,” said DenDekker. “I also want to thank UberEats for supplying these vouchers to our sanitation workers — who keep our neighborhood clean and help to stop the spread of COVID-19 — while also supporting our local community restaurants. This is a great way to say ‘thank you’ while also stimulating economic development for our small businesses during this pandemic.”

The distribution is slated for 5 a.m., tomorrow, May 7 at DSNY’s Queens Garage 2, 3, and 4, 52-35 58th Street at 53rd Avenue and 58th Street in Woodside.

Kim Leads Two PPE Distributions 

Assemblymember Ron Kim

Assemblymember Ron Kim (D-Whitestone, Flushing, College Point, Murray Hill) will be leading the donation and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) today at two locations in the city. 

Joining Kim are State Sen. John Liu (D-Queens) and former U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel along with Min Sun-Kim, President of the Museum of Korean American Heritage and former President of the Korean American Association of Greater New York

The events kick off with the officials announce over $200,000 worth of PPE donated by the Korean American community at 11 a.m. in front of the Korean Consulate, 460 Park Avenue between .57th and E.58th Street in Manhattan.

The PPE distribution to frontline workers and medical personnel is slated for 3 p.m. at Elmhurst Hospital, 79-01 Broadway at the intersection of Broadway and 79th Street in Elmhurst.

Katz Introduces Office of Conviction Integrity Unit

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz yesterday announced that the new Conviction Integrity Unit she established on January 1 has been actively working to make sure that no one has been wrongfully convicted of a crime in Queens County. 

This unit is Katz’ signature initiative and one of the first promises she made to the people of Queens when she endeavored to become the County’s top law enforcement officer. To date, the Conviction Integrity Unit has received 46 cases for review with several active investigations currently underway. 

“No one is perfect. No system is without flaws. And we know, without a doubt, that mistakes can happen, resulting in a miscarriage of justice,” said Katz. “It is vitally important to have a Unit that is dedicated to reviewing credible cases and empowered to make recommendations on anyone who should be exonerated if found to be wrongfully convicted.”

Katz sought out a proven leader for this Conviction Integrity Unit, who has a long track record identifying and proving cases of actual innocence. Unit Director Bryce Benjet most recently worked at the Innocence Project where he was a clinical professor at Cardozo Law School and handled a national docket of 25 to 30 cases focusing on DNA testing and other forensic science evidence.

Addabbo, Pheffer Amato Respond to MTA Cross Bat Bridge Toll Rebate Postponement

State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr.
Assemblymember Stacey Pheffer Amato

State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth, parts of South Ozone Park, Ridgewood, Woodside, The Rockaways) ., and Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Broad Channel, Hamilton Beach, Howard Beach, Lindenwood, Ozone Park, the Rockaway Peninsula) said it was understandable that the MTA announced that the planned toll rebate program on the Cross Bay Bridge will be suspended until further notice.

Originally, Addabbo and Pheffer Amato worked to get the MTA to provide a refund for the toll on the Cross Bay Bridge — which connects the mainland to the Rockaway peninsula — for all Queens residents. Through EZ-Pass, drivers of vehicles registered in Queens will receive the money for the toll back as a credit on their bill. This was supposed to go into effect this summer.

But the lawmakers noted that the MTA is feeling the economic impact of the Coronavirus with ridership decreasing by up to 90 percent in the subway system as social distancing is preventing people from being in packed subway cars and buses.

“We have all been negatively affected by the Coronavirus and the MTA is no exception. The MTA is suffering greatly due to the COVID-19 pandemic as fewer and fewer people in the city are taking public transportation, with reports estimating the MTA losing nearly $125 million dollars per week,” Addabbo said. “I am disappointed that the MTA will be postponing the toll rebate program on the Cross Bay Bridge until further notice. We remain optimistic that once we have the Coronavirus under control, the Cross Bay Bridge will be free for Queens residents, and encourage more people to visit the Rockaways and support the local businesses.”

“To say I’m disappointed by the postponement of the Queens Resident Cross Bay Bridge Rebate is an understatement, but I understand that the MTA is experiencing never before seen economic hardship and tough decisions have to be made during unprecedented times,” Pheffer Amato said. 

“We fought so hard for this, for our communities, and it was seen as something that would never be able to happen. Just because the rebate is on PAUSE like the rest of us, does not mean we will not fight to make sure it’s reinstated as soon as possible as we help our state recover from the crippling economic damage this pandemic has caused,” she added.

Meng: Postal Service Renews Lease For Kew Gardens Post Office

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) announced yesterday that the United States Postal Service has renewed its lease for the post office in Kew Gardens.  

The Postal Service informed Meng’s office that the new lease will be for five years from August 1, 2021 to July 31, 2026. The current lease expires on July 31, 2021.

Last month, Meng asked the Postal Service about the future of the facility after members of the community expressed concern that the lease may not be renewed.

“The decision to renew the lease for the Kew Gardens Post Office is great news for the community,” said Meng. “I thank the Postal Service for its commitment to this facility, and to those who live in the area. This post office provides important postal services to neighborhood residents at a convenient location, and I’m pleased that it will continue to serve the community for years to come.”

The facility is located at 83-30 Austin Street in Kew Gardens.

Moya, Johnson Laud Decision for More Public Funding To Cover Funeral Costs   

City Councilmember Francisco Moya .

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan) and City Council Member Francisco Moya (D-East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Corona, Flushing Meadows, LaGuardia Airport) yesterday lauded the de Blasio Administration’s initiative to increase funds to pay for final resting arrangements for low-income COVID-19 victims. 

The Administration has expanded eligibility to all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status. Johnson and Moya had last month called for an emergency fund for low-income New Yorkers who couldn’t afford final arrangement costs, and for the fund to be open to all.

“No community has been spared by the COVID-19 crisis but for undocumented immigrants, the disease has been particularly cruel. Not only were undocumented New Yorkers denied being among loved ones in their final moments but they were also denied a dignified burial among them as well — whether in their adopted country or their native one. That’s just not acceptable, especially in a city built by immigrants,” aid Moya.

“I thank Mayor de Blasio for making these funds available to undocumented New Yorkers and Speaker Corey Johnson for standing with me in support of providing families with emergency burial assistance. New York City is once again demonstrating what justice and equity look like as it expands eligibility for the HRA’s burial assistance program to all low-income New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status, and increases the reimbursement limit. This step is critical to addressing the systemic inequalities this disease has brought to the fore.”