Queens Lawmakers on the Move October 16, 2020

Queens County City Council News

Holden Introduces Bill to Repeal “Chokehold/Diaphragm” Ban 

City Council Member Bob Holden

City Councilmember Robert Holden (D-Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Ridgewood, Woodhaven, Woodside) announced Thursday that he would introduce Intro 2116, a bill to fully repeal section 10-181 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York, at the Stated Meeting of the New York City Council later that day.

This bill would remove a city prohibition on police officers from using a chokehold or compressing a person’s diaphragm while making or attempting to make an arrest, returning authority to the pre-existing NYS law that already criminalizes chokeholds by law enforcement.  This bill would take effect immediately and be retroactive to July 15, 2020.

“The reckless, so-called chokehold/diaphragm ban makes it impossible for our police officers to safely apprehend a violent suspect and puts our police as well as the innocent bystanders, in unnecessary danger while making our entire city less safe. Whenever there is a physical altercation between a suspect and a police officer, there’s always a gun involved-the police officer’s gun. We already ask so much of our police. We ask them to run toward danger when every human instinct says to run away. We ask them to say goodbye to their loved ones at the beginning of a shift without really knowing if they’ll make it home. But this bad legislation asks them to try to subdue violent criminals with their hands tied, under the threat of going to jail. There is already a reasonable state law that makes it a felony for a police officer to strangle a suspect. As crime continues to rise, we need to put handcuffs on criminals, not cops,” Holden said.

The bill has bipartisan support and is co-sponsored by Councilmembers Joe Borelli (D-Staten Island), Chaim Deutsch (D-Brooklyn), Steven Matteo (D-Staten Island) and Eric Ulrich (D-Belle Harbor, Breezy Point, Broad Channel, Howard Beach, Lindenwood, Neponsit, Ozone Park, Richmond Hill, Rockaway Park, Roxbury, South Ozone Park, West Hamilton Beach, Woodhaven). It is fully supported by the New York City Police Benevolent Association, the New York City Captains Endowment Association, the NYPD Lieutenants Benevolent Association, New York City Sergeants Benevolent Association and New York City Detectives Endowment Association.

Constantinides Calls for Safer 24th Avenue

City Council Member Costa Constantinides

City Councilmember Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Woodside), community leaders, and street safety advocates today called on the City’s Department of Transportation to drastically improve street safety on Astoria’s 24th Avenue.

A particularly dangerous 16-block stretch of the thoroughfare has led to serious crashes in recent years, notably the death of a delivery worker while riding a scooter last month.

“For too long 24th Avenue has functioned like a piecemeal highway, with dangerous turns and cars speeding into the middle of intersections to check for oncoming traffic,” said Constantinides. “The DOT must look at this avenue, from 21st Street all the way to where it meets the Grand Central Parkway at 37th Street, and determine what measures will improve the health and safety of all Astoria residents.”

Constantinides made the call at a virtual press conference Thursday afternoon, where he was joined by a representative for Assemblymember Aravella Simotas; Marie Torniali, Chair of Community Board 1; Juan Restrepo, Queens Organizer for Transportation Alternatives; and Julie Huntington of Families for Safe Streets.

Constantinides made a formal request to the DOT in an Oct. 13 letter, in which he outlined some of the overarching problems with 24th Avenue. The Astoria lawmaker noted the two-way thoroughfare still served as a dangerous truck route from 21st to 29th Street, despite measures to prevent trucks from getting stuck as they approach the Triboro Bridge. He followed up on a request from last year that the DOT find an alternative route for large trucks, given the current path’s proximity to an elementary school.

He and advocates have noted 24th Avenue is also particularly dangerous from 31st to 37th Street. These dangerous conditions came to a head on Sept. 23, when delivery worker Mariano Canales fatally crashed his scooter into a minivan at 24th Avenue and 33rd Street. Canales, who lived in Woodside, was heading back to his restaurant at the time of the crash.

Advocates argued the cluster of unsafe conditions demands a full traffic study. They cited DOT’s past success in partnering with the community to mitigate dangerous traffic on Hobart Street from 30th to 31st Avenues.

Stavisky Reads to School Children During Virtual Story Time

State Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky

State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Central Queens) joined the Queens Public Library for a virtual story time with children twelve years old and younger earlier this week. 

Stavisky read “Grace for President” by Kelly DiPucchio. The story is about an ambitious young girl who, upon finding out there has never been a woman President, sets her sights on the Oval Office by running for class President.

“There are many reasons why I love this book. As the first woman from Queens County elected to the State Senate, I understand the challenges women face in running for elected office,” said Stavisky. “I also believe this book paints with a broader brush, encouraging any youngster to strive for their goals and dreams, no matter what gender, color or creed they maybe. Additionally, ‘Grace for President’ does a great job in providing an introductory look into our political process, while teaching children about various American political institutions.”

Stavisky received this book from the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University as part of their “Teach a Girl to Lead” reading series, which encourages women legislators to help inspire young girls to become leaders.

Gianaris Demands Gas Service be Restored in Astoria Houses

Senator Michael Gianaris

State Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside, parts of Woodside, Maspeth, Ridgewood, Woodhaven) called on the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) to immediately address the lack of gas service to 1-04 Astoria Boulevard. 

In a sharply worded letter to Chair Greg Russ, Senator Gianaris said it was unacceptable that residents in that building had been without gas service since September 23 and that the agency has no timeline for a restoration of service.

“NYCHA owes New Yorkers answers about this unacceptable situation. Why after three weeks is there still no plan or timeline to restore a basic service to tenants?” said Gianaris. “Impacted NYCHA residents deserve better and should be provided with hot food service and prorated rents for harm caused by this shut off.”

Gianaris first learned of service issues following reports from residents after September 23. He has long fought the beleaguered housing agency on service issues, including fighting for expedited lead remediation. 

Read Senator Gianaris’ Letter to NYCHA Chair Greg Russ Here