Queens Lawmakers on the Move Dec. 14, 2020

Queens County City Council News

Adams Appointed Chair of Public Safety Committee

City Council Member Adrienne Adams

City Councilmember Adrienne Adams (D-Jamaica, Richmond Hill, Rochdale Village, South Ozone Park) was appointed as Chair of the Committee on Public Safety for the remainder of the current legislative term by Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan) on Friday. 

Adams is replacing former councilmember and current Queens Borough President Donovan Richards. The Committee on Public Safety, which has oversight over the New York Police Department, is one of the Council’s most critical committees. It also has jurisdiction over the Civilian Complaint Review Board, the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, the courts, legal services, the district attorney’s office and the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor. 

Before being appointed to chair the Committee on Public Safety, Adams was the Chair of the Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Sitings, and Dispositions. As chair of the subcommittee, she pushed for greater representation for all New Yorkers of varied backgrounds and in all boroughs. She believes that designations should reflect the city’s inclusive mosaic.    

“I am honored to serve as Chair to the Committee on Public Safety, and I am committed to put forth my efforts to increase public confidence and improve the safety and well-being of all New Yorkers. With this assignment I am recommitted to ensure that all voices are heard. I thank Speaker Corey Johnson for placing his confidence in me and I look forward to working within this capacity, with my colleagues on the committee, and the entire City Council to move New York City into a more unified progressive direction. I look forward to putting forth a very robust agenda from my committee,” said Adams. 

Stavisky Honored as “Friend of CUNY”  

State Sen. Toby Stavisky

State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Central Queens), Chairwoman of the Higher Education Committee, was honored as a “Friend of CUNY” by the Professional Staff Congress/CUNY during a Belle Zeller  Scholarship Trust Fund virtual event last week. 

The PSC thanked the senator for her fervent support of the City University of New York during her more than twenty years in the senate.

“It is an honor to be recognized as a Friend of CUNY. As the Chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, I take great pride in our city’s university system and the  young graduates it continues to produce. As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic we will be  faced with many fiscal challenges. I vow not only to continue to be a friend of CUNY, but to be an advocate and a leader in the trying months and years ahead,” said Stavisky.

Stavisky’s deep rooted connection to the CUNY system dates back decades. The senator  completed graduate courses at both Hunter College and Queens College after graduating from Syracuse University. And, as she explained in her acceptance speech, the CUNY system played a pivotal role in the life of her late husband, Senator Leonard Stavisky.  

“I consider myself a Friend of CUNY for many years,” says Stavisky. “I will never forget the fact that my  husband was a proud graduate of City College and without City College and free tuition he could have never gone to college. There are so many people like him today. We have to make sure that CUNY not only exists, but survives and flourishes.”  

The Belle Zeller Scholarship Trust Fund was established in 1979 by the Professional Staff  Congress/CUNY, the instructional staff union of The City University of New York. The scholarship  honors the founding president of the PSC, Dr. Belle Zeller. This year’s other honorees include New York Assemblymember Deborah Glick, and outgoing PSC CUNY and University Student Senate member Timothy Hunter. The event also recognized this year’s CUNY scholars. 

Richards to be Briefed on City’s COVID Response

City Council Member Donovan Richards

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Chair of the Queens Borough Board, along with the rest of the board will hear a presentation from Dr. Dave A. Chokshi, MD, MSc, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), during a meeting of the board scheduled on Monday.

Dr. Chokshi will update the board on the city’s response to COVID-19.

The meeting will be conducted virtually, with Borough Board members participating via videoconference. The meeting will also be live-streamed to the public on the Borough President’s website.

The meeting will take place on Monday December 14 at 5:30 p.m.

Addabbo Issues Statement on Closure of Indoor Dining

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) issued a statement on Friday about the indoor dining closures that begin Monday: 

“It is disheartening to hear about the decision to close down indoor dining for at least the next two weeks, especially during the holiday season. It is even more painful since we do not have any federal aid lined up to help these businesses. We have seen during the last shutdown that only allowing to-go orders at restaurants, with outdoor dining not realistic due to the cold temperatures,  is not enough for many of them to survive. I understand the need to slow the infection rate so our hospitals and the brave frontline workers are not overwhelmed, but we also need to take into account the economic impact on our small businesses. Without any federal aid, even more of these businesses — the lifeblood of our communities — will close their doors for good. There must be guidance for these business owners on what metrics need to be met in order for them to reopen. I will continue to work with organizations like the Queens Chamber of Commerce to see how we can assist business owners and employees during this time.”

Meng Calls for Paid Leave to Offset Hybrid, Remote Learning Burden

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Bayside, Flushing, Forest Hills, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Maspeth, Middle Village, Rego Park) announced on Friday that she introduced the Access To Home-based Options and More Ease with Learning Act – or the AT HOME Learning Act – to help families with young children balance work and remote learning responsibilities.

The first COVID-19 relief package, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) that became law on March 18, 2020, created a temporary paid leave program for many working families. Under this initiative, employees could take up to two weeks of emergency paid sick leave and up to 12 weeks of emergency family medical leave. Specifically, under the FFCRA, eligible employees may take paid leave when a minor child’s school or place of care are closed. On August 27, 2020, however, the Department of Labor published guidance which excludes families from accessing the FFCRA leave program if the family chooses virtual learning when given an option to send the child to in-person school or if the school is operating on an alternate or hybrid-attendance model.

As such, the AT HOME Learning Act would:

  • Amend the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) provisions to include leave for employees who are unable to work due to children being enrolled in optional virtual or hybrid learning environments; and,
  • Extend these benefits through the end of the 2020-2021 academic year – to June 25, 2021. Current benefits are set to expire on December 31, 2020.

“As a mom of two young boys, I am extremely concerned about the stress and strain that this pandemic has on working families. It has forced parents, especially moms, to be a full-time worker, caregiver, and teacher,” said Meng. “These moms are bearing the burden of this pandemic. We have heard the heartbreaking realities of working moms, especially those with younger children, leaving the labor force in droves. The majority of women are facilitating remote learning for their younger children – which negatively impacts their careers. In fact, 80 percent of mothers of kids under 12 years of age have said they are the lead parent supervising remote learning. As I have heard from moms everywhere: something has to give, before something ultimately breaks. That is why my bill would provide relief to working parents who choose to opt for virtual learning if they have vulnerable household members, or their school operates in a hybrid learning model. It would increase parents’ options to select the learning plan that best meets the health needs of their families. It would allow them to balance work responsibilities and schoolwork, while providing financial relief.”

“No parent should have to choose between the health of their family or the health of their child’s education,” added Meng. “But we know that paid leave is one of the best tools to fighting the pandemic. That is why paid leave must be at the table of any COVID-19 negotiations. I urge support of my legislation, and call on my colleagues to not let paid leave expire for millions of working families.”

The AT HOME Learning Act is endorsed by the National Partnership for Women and Families.

A copy of the legislation can be viewed here.