Queens Lawmakers on the Move June 26, 2020

Queens County City Council News

Constantinides Lauds Passage of E-Bikes and E-Scooters Legislation

City Council Member Costa Constantinides

City Council Member Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria, parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights) yesterday lauded the city council for passing legislation legalizing e-bikes and e-scooters.

“I am proud to be part of a City Council that continues to adapt and innovate based on the evolutions to our streetscape. E-bikes and e-scooters have become an environmentally friendlier way to meet the rush of meal delivery demands, first brought about by online-ordering apps and then the COVID-19 pandemic. They enable older delivery workers to make deliveries on time without putting their bodies on the line. I am thankful to our colleagues in Albany for earlier this year passing legislation that enabled us to take this vote today.,” said Constantinides.

“While this is no doubt a historic moment for New York City, this is just another step on a longer road toward street safety. The New York Police Department must release any e-bikes and e-scooters it confiscated before ending its crackdown on the vehicles in March. And we must continue to identify streets we can pedestrianise, invest in permanent bike infrastructure, and create more busways,” he added.

Katz Announces Queens Cop Charged With Illegally Using Chokehold

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz yesterday announced that New York City Police Officer David Afanador has been charged with allegedly using a chokehold on a Queens man during an arrest Sunday morning. 

Afanador, 39, was arraigned yesterday before Queens Criminal Court Judge Danielle Hartman. He is being charged with attempted aggravated strangulation and strangulation in the second degree. He was also suspended without pay by the New York City Police Department hours after a video of the incident went viral online – allegedly used a chokehold on a 35-year-old man on the boardwalk near the beach in Far Rockaway.

“Police officers are entrusted to serve and protect – and the conduct alleged here cannot be tolerated. This police officer is now a defendant and is accused of using a chokehold, a maneuver we know has been lethal. This Office has zero-tolerance for police misconduct,” said Katz.

If convicted, Afanador faces up to 7 years in prison. 

Grodenchik, Lancman Want Accountability on Convicts Housed at Wyndham Hotel

City Councilmember Barry Grodenchik
City Councilman Rory Lancman,

City Council Members Barry S. Grodenchik (D-Bayside, Queens, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Hollis Hills, Holliswood, Jamaica Estates, Little Neck Oakland Gardens, Queens Village) and Rory I. Lancman (D-Kew Gardens Hills, Pomonok, Electchester, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, Jamaica Estates, Briarwood, Parkway Village, Jamaica Hills, Jamaica) expressed disappointment after receiving an onsite briefing from representatives of the mayor’s office regarding the use of the Wyndham Hotel, 61-27 186th Street in Fresh Meadows to house individuals who have been released from correctional facilities.  

“Unfortunately, though the facility has been open for about two months, the city did not provide any notification of this use to elected officials, the local community board, or civic leaders.  The failure to inform the community was a serious mistake. We are disappointed by the lack of communication and expressed that sentiment directly to the mayor’s office,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement.

“Standing with the local community, our position is that the facility must prevent negative security incidents both in the hotel and in the surrounding area, demonstrate success in placing residents in permanent housing, and establish a functioning community dialogue group,” the added.

The Wyndham Hotel is part of an emergency program established by the mayor whose aim is to avoid the spread of the coronavirus by reducing homelessness and reliance on city shelters by those released from city and state correctional facilities who do not have Covid-19 symptoms.  

Under the auspices of the city’s office of emergency management, the mayor’s office of criminal justice has entered into a contract to temporarily house individuals at the hotel.  Just over 100 people currently reside there, each in her or his own room. The hotel’s capacity is about one hundred forty rooms, so the population will not exceed that number.  

The facility is run by a nonprofit organization called Exodus Transitional Community, which is under city contract to provide wraparound services, including case management, job placement, meals, and assistance finding permanent housing. Residents stay in the hotel only temporarily until they have permanent housing available. A private security firm has been hired and is onsite to monitor the building and its perimeter as well as the surrounding area.

In response to Grodenchik and Lancman’s request, Exodus agreed to set up a community advisory board, to include local elected officials, community board representatives, and civic and tenant leaders who represent the adjacent communities.  The board will meet regularly to address any issues that may arise.

CM Adams Lauds Passage of COVID-19 Funding Tracker Bill 

City Council Member Adrienne Adams

Council Member Adrienne Adams (D-Jamaica, Richmond Hill, Rochdale Village, South Ozone Park) yesterday lauded the full city council for passing the COVID-19 Funding Tracker legislation.

City Council Members Mark Treyger (D-Brooklyn) and Vanessa Gibson (D-Bronx) sponsored the legislation that will establish a public database to track city spending now and in the future. The new city website will include expenditures of federal, state and local funding to address the pandemic, including grants, loans and city contracts exceeding $100,000.  

According to the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, infection and death rates of COVID-19 have disproportionately affected low-income New Yorkers. However, comparably less impacted, wealthier communities are being targeted for resources.

“Many New Yorkers across the city faced disproportionate effects of the pandemic,” said Adams. “We must ensure that all COVID-19 investments are equitable. Transparency is critical to residents, especially in heavily impacted areas. This bill will move us toward accountability and I thank Council Member Treyger and Council Member Gibson for this thoughtful legislation.” 

The COVID-19 Funding Tracker public database will be updated monthly. This local law takes effect immediately. 

Meng Votes Yes on George Floyd Justice in Policing 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) last night voted to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (H.R. 7120) to address the systemic inequities and racial injustices that too many, particularly those in the Black community, tragically face.

“In response to the watershed moment of witnessing the brutal video of George Floyd being slowly murdered under the knee of a police officer, Americans across the country rose up with tears in our eyes demanding equal justice, and an end to structural racism and police brutality,” said Meng. “Our nation is crying out against a system that has caused so much harm to communities of color, especially to the Black community. Today’s vote – on the one month anniversary of that tragedy – is a bold and transformative step forward to hold police accountable, end racial profiling, and eliminate qualified immunity for law enforcement; it is a step toward transforming the culture of policing, increasing transparency, and combatting the epidemic of racial injustice.”

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act would implement significant policing reforms and address racial injustice. Specifically, it:

  • Bans chokeholds;
  • Stops no-knock warrants;
  • Ends the qualified immunity doctrine that is a barrier to holding police officers accountable for wrongful conduct;
  • Combats racial profiling;
  • Mandates data collection, including body cameras and dashboard cameras; and
  • Establishes new standards for policing.

The bill passed the House by a vote of 236-181. It now moves to the Senate, where the  Republican-controlled chamber has its own version of police reform legislation.

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