Queens Lawmakers on the Move May 18, 2020

Queens County City Council News

Ocasio-Cortez Goes To Pat For PA Williams

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D- Astoria, College Point, Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Woodside, parts of the Bronx), who has raised a whopping more than $8 million for her own re-election, is headlining a birthday fundraiser for Public Advoate Jumaane Williams today.

Also in the zoom billing is former Ohio State Sen. Senator Nina Turner and actress/activist  Cynthia Nixon, in celebration and solidarity.

“Jumaane exemplifies the best of public service – his commitment to fighting for a more equitable New York is unparalleled. I’m thankful to be able to call him my friend, my colleague, and my Public Advocate, especially at a time when our city is facing unprecedented challenges. Please join us for his birthday fundraiser and help him pay off the last of his debt from 2019,” said Ocasio-Cortez in her emailed pitch.

“I’m looking forward to chatting with Jumaane, Nina, and Cynthia, and answering questions from you. Jumaane’s work advocating for marginalized New Yorkers is especially important now – and he relies on grassroots support from folks like you to continue the job. Looking forward to seeing you there.

Click here to join us for Jumaane’s birthday on Monday evening! There is a special VIP Room at 6:00 p.m, where you can actually speak with the celebrity officials or you can join for the main event at 6:30 p.m.

Koo Announces Upcoming Webinars for Building Owners, Managers and Real Estate Brokers

City Council Member Peter Koo

City Council Member Peter Koo (D-Bayside, College Point, Flushing, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Fresh Meadows, Whitestone) this week will join with the Real Estate Board of New York, Queens Chamber of Commerce and Flushing Business Improvement District to host a series of four multilingual webinars for building owners, managers, and real estate brokers. 

The webinars will be split into two parts, both translated into Korean and Chinese: Navigating COVID-19 Relief for Building Owners and Managers and Relief for Real Estate Brokers and Agents During COVID-19. 

The schedule is as follows:

Part 1 – Building owners and managers in English/ Korean/ 한국어/ 韓文

(Wednesday, 5/20 at 2 p.m.)

Part 2 – Real estate Agents and Brokers in English/ Korean/ 한국어/ 韓文

(Wednesday, 5/20 at 3:30 p.m.)

Part 1 – Building owners and managers in English/ Chinese/ 중국어/ 中文

(Friday, 5/22 at 11 a.m.)

Part 2 – Real estate Agents and Brokers in English/ Chinese/ 중국어/ 中文

(Friday, 5/22 at 12:30 p.m.)

Advanced registration is required. Please fill out this form to register.

Meng Statement Supporting the Heroes Act

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 House Appropriations Committee, issued the following statement after the House passage of the $3 trillion Heroes Act (H.R. 6800).

“This is an unprecedented moment in history and it requires an unprecedented response by Congress. I was proud to join my colleagues today to pass legislation that puts families and frontline workers first. As a representative of Queens, I have seen firsthand the pain and suffering the coronavirus has caused, and how many of my constituents are hurting and need help,” said Meng. 

“Given the scale and scope of this damage, we must address this crisis with measures that meet the gravity of this moment. The sobering statistics of this national health crisis paint a grim picture in our country: over 84,000 people have died, there are nearly 1.4 million confirmed cases, and over 36 million Americans have applied for unemployment benefits. People are hurting; they’re scared for their safety and their health. Many are worried about how to pay their rent or mortgage, and how to put food on the table. They need a lifeline, and the Heroes Act provides one.”

Among the Items in the bill that Meng fought to secure include:

  • More cash assistance to families and children.
  • $200 billion to fund hazard pay for frontline workers, and defining this broad category of essential workers who have put their health and safety on the line to keep NY and the nation running.
  • Expansion and increase in funding for SNAP, and allowing the program to cover hot food purchases from retailers. No one should go hungry – not during this crisis, and not ever.
  • Ability of immigrants who use Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN) to receive economic stimulus payments, and making these funds retroactive.
  • Extension of work permits for immigrants, many of whom are serving as essential workers on the frontlines of combating the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Inclusion of her legislation, the Emergency Educational Connections Act (H.R. 6563), which would provide $1.5 billion for internet access for students who are doing remote learning. No student should get left behind because they don’t have internet access.
  • Nearly $200 billion to help struggling renters and homeowners pay their rent and mortgages to help them stay in their homes.
  • Billions for coronavirus testing and contract tracing, both critical components to combating the spread of the virus, and eventually re-opening our nation.
  • More money to New York State and New York City – the nexus of this pandemic.
  • Extensions of the enhanced unemployment insurance through January 2021 to provide relief for those who are struggling after losing their jobs.
  • Elimination of the 75/25 rule for the Paycheck Protection Program, and an increase in the flexibility of PPP loan usage from 8 weeks to 24 weeks.

The measure now goes to the U.S. Senate.

Velázquez Statement on Supporting the Heroes Act

U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez

U.S. Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-Queens, Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn) spoke on the House floor Friday in support of the Heroes Act, H.R. 6800. 

“I rise in support of the Heroes Act. This bill contains important provisions to help stop the economy’s freefall. For small businesses, it authorizes an additional $10 billion in disaster grants. It improves the PPP initiative allowing businesses under stay-at-home orders to extend the loan coverage period until the end of the calendar year. It also sets aside 25% – or $30 billion – of the remaining funds for firms with fewer than ten employees.

“Equally important, this legislation assists struggling families. In this bill, we increase funding for SNAP by 15 percent to address the record increase in hunger we are seeing. The bill extends unemployment benefits, including the $600 per week in pandemic unemployment insurance. Importantly, this benefit will not count against other federal aid – like SNAP and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families – a change I’ve long advocated,” the lawmaker said.

Constantinides: Process to Close Rikers Should Continue Amid COVID-19

City Council Member Costa Constantinides

City Council Member Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria, East Elmhurst, part of Long Island City, Woodside) on Friday called on the City Planning Commission to virtually resume the historic rezoning of Rikers Island, which will guarantee by the mid-2020s that it is never again used for incarceration. 

The lawmakers noted that COVID-19’s relentless spread through the city has brought all services to a halt, including applications going through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). The historic “public place” designation for Rikers Island, which means it could no longer be used for jails after 2026, is among those ULURP applications sitting in limbo. 

“Every day we let this application stall is another life put at risk on Rikers. Nothing should stop the decision to close Rikers Island, when we have proven everything from City Council meetings to weddings can be conducted remotely,” said Constantinides, whose district includes Rikers Island. “What this virus has done to the detainees, employees, and guards there only underscores why we cannot wait any longer. If there is one application the City hears virtually,

 in a way that keeps everyone safe, it should be the one that guarantees Rikers is no longer used as a jail.” 

Moya Lauds Virtual Soccer Session 

City Councilmember Francisco Moya .

City Council Member Francisco Moya (D-East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Corona, Flushing Meadows, LaGuardia Airport) lauded last week’s virtual soccer session with unaccompanied minors in New York City as part of a virtual recreational and fitness soccer program that provides an outlet to a very unique population during strenuous times.

FIFA World Cup Champion David Villa, joined Moya and in partnership with the Hispanic Federation to hold the session.

This free virtual program launched on April 20th and is serving unaccompanied minors, ages 5 to 17. Its goal is to give children the tools and confidence necessary to adapt and thrive in their community. Through soccer, children will learn the values of cooperation, trust, friendship, and individual strengths. All classes are available through Google Classrooms and participants received free jerseys and soccer balls.

“Under ‘normal’ circumstances, the kids this program serves are still living anything but a normal life. The beauty of this soccer clinic is that it reconnects these children to their culture, their families and shows them that home is here. But today, this program is more critical than ever,” aid Moya.

“It gives kids a needed respite, physically, mentally and emotionally. It is not just a physical health program, it’s a mental health initiative too. I am so proud to work with Hispanic Federation, David Villa and the DV7 Academy and I’m grateful for all they do to improve the lives of this vulnerable community.”

Lee, Queens Borough Board Hears from Utility Companies

Acting Borough President Sharon Lee and the Queens Borough Board today will hear presentations from National Grid and Con Edison regarding their operations and their ability to continue serving Queens residents and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The utilities will also provide updates on how they are preparing for the upcoming summer months.

This meeting will be conducted virtually, with Borough Board members participating via videoconference. The meeting will also be live-streamed to the public on the Borough President’s website at www.queensbp.org/community-boards.

The Borough Board is chaired by the Borough President under the New York City Charter and comprised of the borough’s City Council members and the chairperson of each Community Board in the borough.

The meeting is slated for 5:30 p.m., today May 18 Public live stream at www.queensbp.org/community-boards.