Queens Lawmakers on the Move Dec. 4, 2020

Queens County City Council News

Meeks Elected Chair of House Foreign Affairs Committee

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks

Congressman Gregory W. Meeks (D-Jamaica, Laurelton, Rosedale, Cambria Heights, Saint Albans, Springfield Gardens, The Rockaways, JFK Airport), senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was elected to Chair the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday, becoming the first African-American Chair in the committee’s history. 

He released the following statement:

“I am incredibly honored to be elected Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, a committee that I have served on throughout my tenure of service in Congress. There is extraordinary talent across the committee and Democratic caucus, and I look forward to working closely with Members as we look ahead to a new era of US global affairs.

“The committee under the next Congress will preside over an historic shift in US foreign policy, and there is no shortage of work ahead of us. Not only will we need to re-engage with a world that has felt the marked absence of US global leadership, but we must also rethink traditional approaches to foreign policy.

“This will not be a return to normal, but a leap towards a new way of doing business. We will broaden our scope and outreach to parts of the world we’ve historically overlooked. We will return as partners to our European allies, but we will also need to build new multilateral relationships in the Western Hemisphere and Africa. We can only address the systemic challenges posed by Moscow and Beijing with the help of like-minded friends.

“We will work to rejoin the JCPOA and WHO, but we will also need to establish new coalitions to address the existential crisis of climate change and emerging threats. In pushing further on the fight for human rights across the world, we must lead by humble example with the weight of US moral credibility. We will need to take back Congress’ constitutional authority, tightening the scope of AUMFs that have led to ambiguous forever wars. 

“None of that work, however, can be completed without a considerable rebuilding of our Department of State. Diplomacy must be moved front and center as the primary tool for conducting US foreign policy, no longer second to military action. The Foreign Affairs Committee must take a leading role in how we rebuild the State Department. We will broaden the conversation, hearing testimony from organizations and non-traditional diplomats. We will press for greater diversity so our diplomatic corps looks more like the America it represents abroad, strengthening the initiatives that serve as a pipeline for diverse communities. 

“In order to deepen the expertise of the committee and prepare for the challenges ahead of us, there is no substitute for on-the-ground experience, engaging with foreign governments and the people they’re meant to serve, through bi-partisan delegations. As Chair, I will utilize the expertise of our Committee members both in the Committee room and abroad, repairing old relationships and establishing new ones. 

“We can no longer be America first, but America forward. Our challenges before us are global in scale, and it will require global cooperation, spearheaded by American leadership. I am eager to begin work with my colleagues on the committee, and look forward to working with the new Biden-Harris administration on the tasks ahead of us.”

Sanders Calls on Biden to Reverse Trump Solar Tariffs

State Sen. James Sanders Jr.

State Senator James Sanders Jr. (D-Laurelton, Rosedale, Springfield Gardens, Edgemere, Bayswater, Arverne and Far Rockaway) has sent a letter to President-Elect Joe Biden asking him to reverse President Donald Trump’s solar tariffs. 

Sanders is calling on Biden to reverse the Trump Administration’s policy toward solar energy by issuing an executive order to remove Section 201 tariffs on imported solar cells and modules. In addition, Sanders is requesting a  five-year extension of the 30% solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC).

“As you know, the nation and the world face great danger from climate change and we must act boldly and quickly to avoid climate catastrophe,” Sanders wrote. “Promoting solar energy and other renewable energies is a major part of the solution to this problem.”

The 10th Senatorial District includes Far Rockaway, an area hardest hit in New York State during Superstorm Sandy in 2012. There is no question that the damage caused by this storm was significantly enhanced by climate change, Sanders explained in the letter. Sanders added, communities of color, children, elderly and the disabled are disproportionately impacted by climate change.

Richards Hosts 12th and Final 2020 Virtual Jobs Fair

City Council Member Donovan Richards

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards is hosting the twelfth and final virtual job fair of 2020 next week. 

“Families across Queens continue to feel the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is further magnified when we look at it through a gender justice or racial justice lens,” said Richards. “The economic recovery and rebuild of our borough hinges on connecting borough residents with employers looking to hire immediately for a vast array of available positions in key sectors. The talent is already here in Queens, we are simply giving that talent opportunities.”

The ongoing hiring push comes as Queens’ unemployment rate sits at 13.1% as of October, down from a high of 21.6% in June but up more than 10% points from February’s 3 percent unemployment rate. According to the New York State Department of Labor, more than 2.11 million New York City residents have filed unemployment claims between March 8 and November 21.

Participants and viewers will hear brief presentations from employers and recruiters seeking to fill hundreds of positions in a variety of service fields including developmental support, transportation, retail, security and more.

Prospective applicants interested in participating in the live interactive Q&A via Zoom Webinar must RSVP online by Tuesday, December 8. Instructions on how to participate will be emailed within 48 hours to those who register.

The fair will also be livestreamed. American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation will be provided live by Sorenson Community Interpreting Services.

The final job fair will be held on Wednesday, December 9 from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. 

To view the videos of the previous fairs, visit the Queens Borough President’s website.

Stringer Proposes Plan to Help Small Businesses

Comptroller Scott Stringer

New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer proposed a plan to support and promote small businesses during the upcoming holiday season as COVID-19 cases continue to surge. 

As New York City’s economy slowly recovers and tourism, a significant source of revenue for small businesses, continues to lag, Stringer urged the city to launch a coordinated effort to help small businesses navigate the challenges posed by this holiday season and make it as easy as possible for New Yorkers to shop local and support community retail. 

Stringer’s recommendations include assisting small businesses with digital tools and developing an online presence, ramping up holiday markets and outdoor festivals where New Yorkers can shop outdoors, pedestrianizing neighborhoods, keeping business corridors accessible, easing regulations and prohibitive fees on awnings, and using LinkNYC terminals to promote nearby businesses. 

“For so many retail stores and mom-and-pop shops, the holiday season is usually one of the busiest and most profitable times of year,” said Stringer. “But this year, lagging tourism, slow economic progress and the threat of a second wave pose big challenges for small businesses already struggling from earlier shutdowns. We need to get creative about how we support and promote our small businesses this holiday season – that means cutting red tape, helping businesses develop a digital footprint, and pedestrianizing our neighborhoods and public spaces so New Yorkers are encouraged to walk, shop, and eat local. There is no economic recovery for New York City without our small businesses. I urge the City to embrace our recommendations to kickstart that recovery.” 

The comptroller’s Save Main Street report found that more than 2,800 small businesses had permanently closed between March 1 and July 10, including at least 1,289 restaurants and 844 retail businesses.  Small businesses account for 39 percent of recent job losses. Immigrant New Yorkers and communities of color have been hardest hit; 73 percent of Main Street jobs in New York City are held by people of color, 53 percent by immigrants, and 29 percent by non-citizens. An analysis by Stringer estimated that the city would forgo at least $1.5 billion in taxable tourism sales for the next year.