Queens Lawmakers on the Move June 23, 2020

Queens County City Council News

Gillibrand Announces Corona Asphalt Plant to Get Over $2M in FEMA Funding

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand yesterday announced that the Harper Street Asphalt Plant, 30-01 Harper Street in Corona will receive $2,087,884.07 in federal funding through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to repair damages sustained during Superstorm Sandy. 

The Harper Street Asphalt Plant produces recycled asphalt pavement (RAP) for the City’s Department of Transportation. By transforming worn asphalt into new pavement, the city is able to reduce costs and pollution from trucking milled asphalt to landfills.

“Superstorm Sandy damaged infrastructure across New York communities and some are still dealing with the aftermath,” said Gillibrand. “This funding will be provided to the city for the costs of repairing the Harper Street Asphalt Plant in order to continue providing sustainable street resurfacing services for New York City. I’m proud to announce this funding, and I will always fight to make sure our communities have the resources needed to recover from a natural disaster.”

DA Katz Announces Office of Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz yesterday announced the creation of a Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau within the DA’s office. 

This Bureau merges the Office’s former Narcotics Investigations Bureau and Gang Violence bureaus. The Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau will work diligently to suppress violent crime in Queens County by identifying and prosecuting drivers of violence engaged in organized criminal behavior, including members of violent street gangs, narcotics distribution operations and firearms dealers.

“As your District Attorney, I promised to do everything possible to rid our neighborhoods of violent gangs, gun runners and drug traffickers. My Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau will stomp out crews that profit from selling instruments of death in our communities. At the same time, my Office will work with members of the community to try to make Queens a safer place, and to focus resources on helping our youths find meaningful outlets for their energy and hopeful opportunities for their futures,” said Katz. 

“This reconfigured Bureau will use every resource available to ensure criminal networks, gang activity and other organized operations run by drivers of crime are dismantled and that the drugs and weapons they peddle will be taken off our streets,” she added.

Katz said this Bureau will respond to the challenges related to gang violence as well as breaking the tentacle hold of organized crime within Queens County. The Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau has a dedicated staff of assistant district attorneys, investigators and analysts razor-focused on making Queens a safer place for everyone.

Meng Statement on NYPD Officer’s Illegal Chokehold at Rockaway Beach

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) issued the following statement after news and video emerged yesterday that an NYPD officer used a banned chokehold technique to hold an individual down at Rockaway Beach over the weekend.

“I’m disturbed to see another NYPD officer use an illegal chokehold to hold someone down,” said Meng. “It was right to suspend the officer and open an investigation but this must be done in a transparent way and include the officer’s history. Excessive force is unacceptable and must be condemned. After many weeks of cries for justice, we must continue to address the systemic issues that affect equality and justice. 

“I believe federal action is necessary which is why I strongly support the Justice in Policing Act and Congressman Jeffries’s bill – both bills that would ban chokeholds,” she added.

Velázquez Bill Would Impose New Police Standards

U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez

U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-Queens, Brooklyn, Lower Manhattan) has authored legislation, the “Law Enforcement Oversight and Reform Act,” which would implement tough new standards for law enforcement officers such as banning chokeholds and institute new penalties when police officers act recklessly and use disproportionate force.

“New Yorkers and the American people have made their voices heard,” Velázquez said. “The time for change is now. We need meaningful change and that includes holding accountable police who abuse their authority.” 

According to one study, between 2013 and 2019, 99% of police killings resulted in no charges being brought against involved officers. Under Velázquez’s bill, police officers who recklessly use excessive force in civil rights violations that result in death or serious bodily harm could face up to life in prison. Lesser offenses would engender fines beginning at $10,000. The measure would also ban the use of chokeholds at the federal level, a step already being taken by many, but not all localities. 

Jeffries, Maloney Talk About Census Undercounting 

U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries
11.23.19 – Carolyn Maloney

U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Brooklyn) joined U.S. Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens) yesterday in releasing a new staff report on the costs of a Census undercount for NYC. 

“Everybody must fill out the Census like your life depends on it because our quality of life absolutely depends on it,” said Jeffries.  “That means every child, every adult, every household, every block and every single neighborhood needs to stand up and be counted. The Census takes ten minutes to fill out and will lead to ten years of resources and legislative representation that will make a difference in our future.”

Data collected by the Census is used to determine how much funding cities and states receive for critical services like education, medical care, foster care, roads, public transit, and job programs. Census data also helps local governments enhance public safety and prepare for emergencies.  

The new staff report details that if there is just a 1% undercount in the 2020 Census, the residents of New York City could lose: $7.3 million in federal funding for schools that have a high proportion of students living in poverty, which is the equivalent of all the textbooks that 29,000 students would need in a school year; and $3.7 million in federal funding for job training centers and career counseling.

More from Around New York