Queens Lawmakers on the Move Nov. 19, 2020

Queens County City Council News

Johnson Releases Statement on Public School Closures

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan) released a statement on Wednesday about the closure of the city’s public school’s because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a devastating moment for New York City. Through the Council’s oversight, we know that remote learning is failing many of our most vulnerable students, including special education students, those who live in homeless shelters, and those from low-income neighborhoods. We also know that many students do not have the devices they need for remote learning, while others are waiting on Wi-Fi. This was unacceptable in the hybrid learning model and catastrophic now that we are going fully remote. The City needs a detailed plan to keep all students’ learning on track. This should have been done already, but since it hasn’t, they must move quickly to put a plan in place.

The de Blasio Administration also needs to present the public with a reopening plan. This has been a disaster for parents and caregivers. The least the Administration can do is to be honest about what to expect going forward.”

Dromm Holds Finance Committee Hearing

City Council Member Daniel Dromm/via Facebook

City Councilmember Daniel Dromm, Chair of the Committee on Finance (D-Elmhurst, Jackson Heights), and the rest of the committee are holding a hearing on Thursday.

The committee will discuss the Bryant Park Improvement District’s spending, designations in the expense budget and a land use application. For more information see the agenda

The remote hearing will be held on Thursday, November 19 at 9 a.m. in Virtual Room 1.

Koslowitz Holds Rules, Privileges and Elections Committee Hearing

City Council Member Karen Koslowitz

City Councilmember Karen Koslowitz, Chair of the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Elections (D-Rego Park, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, Richmond Hill), and the rest of the committee are holding a hearing on Thursday. 

The committee will discuss dissolving the Committee on the Justice System, changes in membership to the Standing Committees of the Council and the Land Use Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises and more. For more information see the agenda. 

The remote hearing will be held on Thursday, November 19 at 10:30 a.m. in Virtual Room 1.

Addabbo Supports SHSAT with Changes to Make it More Accessible

State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr.

State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth and parts of South Ozone Park, Ridgewood, Woodside and The Rockaways) wants to ensure that the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) remains in place — with some possible improvements –– as the NYC Department of Education (NYC DOE) continues to try to figure out how to administer high school admissions for the upcoming year.

Addabbo, a member of the Senate Standing Committee on Education, believes that the SHSAT is a good tool to utilize for admission into New York City’s specialized high schools. Currently under state law, a student’s SHSAT score is the only criteria for admission to these schools.

The senator understands the frustration expressed by many of his constituents as the NYC DOE looks to alter the admissions process, as it calls for greater diversity at specialized schools, but doesn’t think that eliminating the SHSAT is the right path.

“A student’s hopes of getting into one of these amazing schools should be encouraged, and they should be provided with improved accessibility to educational materials and resources to assist them with the exam,” Addabbo said.

One area of concern for Addabbo is the costs associated with the test. Although the SHSAT itself does not require a fee, many of the test preparation courses and books are expensive, which could discourage students from low-income households from taking the exam. Addabbo believes that these resources should be made more widely available to all students.

“By increasing the availability of the SHSAT, we would allow our brightest students to flourish, improve our specialized high schools and increase the diversity of students who can take the test,” Addabbo said. “After that, it is up to the students and their abilities to prove that they can in fact compete for a seat. By combining more widely available and affordable test prep options with adding to the specialized high school admissions criteria, I believe we can provide even more students across the city with the educational opportunity to attend these schools.”

The senator remembers when NYC DOE Chancellor Richard Carranza met with the members of the Senate Standing Committee on Education in Albany on May 1, 2018 and spoke of the SHSAT. Addabbo, who asked the Chancellor a question regarding school safety, recalled how later on in the meeting Carranza didn’t suggest an elimination of the SHSAT, but the use of “multiple measures” when evaluating a student for admission to a specialized high school.

Of the chancellor’s visit, Addabbo said, “I believe that since many smart students are not good test takers or could have a bad experience when taking the SHSAT, measures such attendance, a GPA, extracurricular activities, volunteerism, or a student’s entire body of work could be considered during the admissions process, in addition to the SHSAT score.” 

The senator noted that unfortunately, Carranza stood by Mayor Bill de Blasio about a month after his visit to Albany announcing the plans to eliminate the SHSAT, a different tone than the one the chancellor expressed to the Senate committee members.

Miller Holds Turkey Giveaway

Councilmember I. Daneek Miller

City Councilmember I. Daneek Miller (D-Cambria Heights, Hollis, Jamaica, St. Albans, Queens Village, and Springfield Gardens) will be hosting his annual Thanksgiving turkey distribution next week. 

The turkey giveaway will be on Tuesday, November 24 at 1 p.m. It will take place at the Shiloh Baptist Church in Jamaica located at 173-70 106th Avenue. 

To reserve a bird call (718)776-3700

AG James Supports Relief for Taxi Medallion Owners

State Attorney General Letitia James

New York Attorney General Letitia James today released the following statement in support of a relief package introduced by the New York Taxi Workers Alliance that will provide New York City’s taxi medallion owners with debt forgiveness on outstanding loans on taxi medallions:

“Hardworking taxi medallion individual and owner-drivers entered this industry believing the city would run a fair system. Instead, many of these workers and small business owners were sent down a rabbit hole of financial ruin. After reviewing the proposal by the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, and understanding that the city’s chief financial officer, Comptroller Scott Stringer, has come out in support of this plan, I believe it is essential that we move forward on this relief package immediately to mitigate the harm already done. This proposal would provide a fiscally fair and responsible way to support the recovery of the taxi medallion industry by guaranteeing loans written down to no more than $125,000. This relief package not only lays out the best way to support the needs of a community that has been economically devastated but will help to ensure justice is finally delivered.”