Queens Lawmakers on the Move July 1, 2020

Queens County City Council News

Dromm Celebrates Adopted FY 2021 Budget Agreement

City Council Member Daniel Dromm

City Councilmember and Chair of the Committee on Finance Daniel Dromm (D-East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights) lauded the New York City Council yesterday for coming to a consensus after weeks of passionate debate over the FY2021 city budget. 

“In the midst of a public health emergency and a financial crisis, the Council banded together to pass a budget that serves New York City’s most marginalized communities. This was an immensely difficult budget to pass. The Council was presented with painful decisions, but we never lost sight of our progressive priorities or vision for New York City,” Dromm said on Tuesday afternoon in a press release which also included City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Council Member and Chair of the Subcommittee on Capital Budget Vanessa L. Gibson. 

The FY 2021 Adopted Budget includes $837 million in cuts and transfers to the New York Police Department (NYPD) expense budget. When combined with associated costs, these cuts remove $1 billion from the NYPD’s spending. This was a hard-fought battle, the release said, which marks the beginning of the council’s efforts to not only limit the size and scope of the NYPD, but also reimagine how we structure criminal justice and public safety in this city.  

The $88.19 billion budget was negotiated with a focus on achieving equity, particularly for low-income communities of color, the press release said. Despite unprecedented challenges due to a $9 billion revenue shortfall from the COVID-19 pandemic, the council fought for and won $700 million for programs and initiatives left out of the FY 2021 Executive Budget. 

BP Lee and Goya Foods Distribute Food to Queens School Community 

Acting Borough President Sharon Lee.

Acting Queens Borough President Sharon Lee yesterday announced a partnership with Goya Foods to donate nearly one ton of food to the I.S. 61 school community in Corona, one of the communities hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Borough President Lee and Goya Foods, the largest Hispanic-owned food company in the U.S., facilitated the distribution of 1,829 pounds of donated food, including red pimientos, lentils, black beans, chickpeas, vegetable barley soup and more, a statement released yesterday said.

“Food insecurity is real, persistent and deep here in the Borough of Families,” Lee said. “Goya Foods has been a tremendous partner in helping to stem the tide here in Queens, as have the devoted teachers of I.S. 61, who have gone extra miles with love to support their kids and families in communities hardest hit by this devastating public health and economic crisis.”

The donation augments the efforts of many I.S. 61 teachers who, throughout the pandemic, purchased groceries and delivered them directly to the homes of students and their families and is part of Queens’ ongoing effort to stem the tide of food insecurity exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent economic emergency. 

More than 1.3 million New York City residents have filed unemployment claims between the weeks of March 14 and June 20, according to the New York State Department of Labor.

Mayor de Blasio Announces Expansion of COVID-19 Antibody Testing 

Mayor BIll de Blasio

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced yesterday that free antibody testing is now available at NYC Health + Hospitals Gotham Community Health Centers across the city, including two sites in Queens. 

“So many New Yorkers are wondering whether they’ve had the virus, or if they’ve exposed their own families,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “While antibody tests are not a fix-all solution, they will give our communities the knowledge they need to help us safely reopen our city.”

Through a partnership with BioReference labs, the city will also conduct its second antibody survey at community testing sites in the five boroughs. Tests will be available by appointment through Friday, July 24th, expanding on the 47,000 New Yorkers who were tested in round one.

Antibody testing will be offered on an appointment-only basis from Monday, June 29 to Friday, July 24. Tests are free for all city residents over the age of 18, and available in Queens at the Queens High School of Teaching (74-20 Commonwealth Blvd) Monday through Friday from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. or Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.. Appointments can be made on this site or by calling 1-888-279-0967. Free, walk-in antibody testing is now available at H+H Gotham Community Health Centers across the city, including in Queens at 50-53 Newtown Road in Woodside. Additional information, including hours of operation, can be found here.

Sanders Calls for Investigation After Police Clash with LGBTQ and Black Lives Matter Protesters 

State Sen. James Sanders Jr.

State Sen. James Sanders Jr. (D-Richmond Hill, South Ozone Park, Jamaica, Rochdale Village, Rosedale, parts of Far Rockaway) is calling for an investigation of police behavior after officers were seen on video using force on what appeared to be peaceful participants at the Queer Liberation March for Black Lives and Against Police Brutality in Manhattan on Sunday, he said Tuesday.

The melee apparently began after someone was allegedly caught trying to deface an NYPD vehicle with graffiti, according to published reports. That’s when police allegedly rushed into the streets and started pushing protesters, and slowly driving an NYPD vehicle into the crowd. At least one officer allegedly used pepper spray.

“Of course it is wrong to graffiti tag a police car but that doesn’t warrant pushing, shoving, and pepper spraying an entire crowd of people,” Sanders said. “We should be encouraging demonstrations of unity like this one which brought together the LGBTQ community and the Black Lives Matter movement. They were united with one voice to call for justice in the police-related murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many others.”

An estimated 50,000 people participated in the march from Foley Square to Washington Square Park in Manhattan. It replaced the traditional Pride Parade that takes place every year on the last Sunday in June, but which was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, and this year commemorated the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall riots.

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