Queens Lawmakers on the Move June 30, 2020

Queens County City Council News

Queens Electeds Speak Out Against CUNY Funding Cuts

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D- Astoria, College Point, Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Woodside, parts of the Bronx), Acting Queens Borough President Sharon Lee, and other Queens and New York elected officials sent a letter last week to Chairperson of the CUNY Board of Trustees William C. Thompson, Jr. and CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez expressing concern about the university’s plans for mass layoffs of adjunct faculty and staff.

“New York must not turn its back on CUNY now,” the letter said. “We call on you, as leaders of the City University system, to be a voice against the destruction of CUNY. We ask you to defend

CUNY at this critical moment in history, not find ways to dismantle it.”

CUNY is facing potentially devastating budget cuts as a result of declining state and city revenues. As much as $95 million in unilateral state cuts could be enacted by Gov. Cuomo and $52 million in cuts have been proposed by Mayor de Blasio.

The lawmakers’ letter calls on the CUNY administration to pursue every alternative before even considering major budget cuts. 

The deadline for CUNY’s 12,000 adjuncts to receive notification about their jobs is today, June 30.  

Vallone Calls for No Water Bill Interest, Late Fees During Pandemic

City Council Member Paul Vallone

Council Member Paul A. Vallone (D-Alley Pond Park, Bay Terrace, Bayside, College Point, Douglaston, East Elmhurst, Flushing, Fresh Meadows, Little Neck and Whitestone) will introduce a resolution calling on the New York City Water Board to not impose penalties or interest on water and sewer bills in an effort to give families needed relief during the COVID-19 pandemic at today’s stated meeting of the City Council. 

“While New York State on PAUSE was established to save the lives of many New Yorkers, it has also created a financial hardship for many families across the five boroughs,” Vallone said. “Forgiving penalties at a time when New Yorkers are struggling to make ends meet is a simple way to provide much needed financial relief during these challenging times.”

New York City water customers are billed for both the water they use and the sewage they generate. The annual rate for late payment charges is 7%. 

According to the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), many residential customers are deferring bill payments because of economic hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March 16, water and sewer bill payments are 12% lower than during the same time period in the last fiscal year. In addition to late charges, overdue water and sewer charges are considered a lien against property and the city has the authority to sell this lien to a third party, or lienholder, in a process called a lien sale.

Vallone will ask the Committee on Environmental Protection for a hearing on this resolution in the near future. 

Meng Releases Statement about LBGTQ+ Pride Month

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Bayside, Flushing, Forest Hills, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Maspeth, Middle Village, and Rego Park), a Vice Chair of the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus, released the following statement commemorating LGBTQ+ Pride Month:

“June is Pride Month where we celebrate inclusion and equality. During this time, we reaffirm our commitment to LGBTQ+ rights, celebrate the progress that has been achieved, and reflect on the work that must still be done. Pride Month has a history born of activism. What began as a fight for life and liberty resulted in a month-long celebration of authenticity.

Pride Month allows people to bravely embrace their identities that have for too long been marginalized, attacked, and disgraced. Because this marginalization continues today, last month, I introduced the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act (H.R.6721) which seeks to combat coronavirus-related threats and attacks, including those against the LGBTQ+ community. I also strongly supported and voted for provisions in the recent House-passed Heroes Act that would strengthen LGBTQ+ non-discrimination protections, including measures directed toward LGBTQ+ youth.

While the Trump administration has continued its assault on LGBTQ+ individuals in the areas of health care and civil rights, the Supreme Court recently upheld protections for LGBTQ+ workers by ruling that employees cannot be fired for their gender identity or sexual orientation. Everyone has the right to live and love freely – without fear of discrimination or harassment.

As a Vice Chair of the LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus, I will always be a proud ally to the LGBTQ+ community, and I’m honored to wish a happy Pride Month to all who celebrate.”