Queens Lawmakers on the Move Jan. 22, 2021

Queens County City Council News

Sanders Podcast to Discuss COVID-19 Vaccine

State Senator James Sanders Jr. Photo from nysenate.gov

State Senator James Sanders Jr. (D–Laurelton, Rosedale, Springfield Gardens, Edgemere, Bayswater, Arverne and Far Rockaway) will discuss the COVID-19 vaccine in his next podcast episode. The conversation will feature medical experts against anti-vaxxers for a discussion in which they examine how the vaccine works, whether the vaccine is safe, whether trial tests were rushed, should taking the vaccine be mandated by law, could there be unknown side effects years from now, what are the alternatives, and so much more.

It is important to note that as of this post, the vaccine is temporarily unavailable. 

The guests are:

Del Bigtree – CEO of Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN), host of ‘HighWire’ with Del Bigtree, Producer of Vaxxed: From Cover-Up To Catastrophe, and former Emmy winning producer of the TV show, The Doctors

Barbara Loe Fisher, Co-founder & President, National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC)

Dr. Gbenga Ogedegbe, Professor and Director, Division of Health & Behavior Department of Population Health, NYU Langone Medical Center

Dr. Donald Morrish, Chief Medical Officer, St. John’s Episcopal Hospital

Karen Muir, Director of Pharmacy, St. John’s Episcopal Hospital

The podcast will premiere on Sanders’ YouTube Channel on Friday, January 22, 2021 at 6 p.m.

De Blasio Announces New Focus on M/WBES and Nonprofits

Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion & Equity joined the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), Housing Development Corporation (HDC), Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. (Enterprise), the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), along with a coalition of public, private and philanthropic partners on Thursday to announce that the New York City Acquisition Fund (NYCAF) will now exclusively serve Minority and Women-Owned Businesses (M/WBEs) and nonprofit developers in its mission to support affordable and supportive housing development.

The $210 million public-private affordable housing loan fund will solely finance projects led by a M/WBE or nonprofit developer with a minimum 51 percent ownership stake in the project. The heightened focus on M/WBEs and nonprofits strengthens the Fund’s alignment with the city’s commitment to a fair and equitable post-COVID-19 recovery and preserves the fund’s limited resources for the borrowers most in need of favorable financing for their affordable housing projects. 

“Affordable housing shouldn’t just offer a place for New Yorkers in underserved communities to live – its construction should offer opportunity to those New Yorkers, too,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “I’m proud to stand with partners across government to support developers who give back the most to the New Yorkers they serve.”

The Fund’s announcement is in line with the City’s new equitable ownership requirement to strengthen M/WBEs and nonprofits’ role on affordable housing projects developed on City-owned sites. The rule requires that an M/WBE or nonprofit partner hold a minimum 25 percent ownership stake in any affordable housing project awarded on public land.

Established in 2006, the fund offers flexible bridge loans to affordable housing developers to acquire vacant sites and occupied buildings and finance predevelopment work. The fund is made possible through an innovative partnership between Enterprise and LISC, the City of New York, major commercial lending institutions, and leading foundations. Since launching, the fund’s lending volume has exceeded $530 million, generating 14,200 newly constructed or preserved affordable homes throughout the five boroughs.

Gianaris Bill Limiting Arbitrary Detention Passes in Senate

Senator Michael Gianaris

Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside, parts of Woodside, Maspeth, Ridgewood, Woodhaven) announced his legislation (S. 1184) to protect the rights of New Yorkers detained by law enforcement passed the Senate on Wednesday.

“One of the most egregious violations of civil liberties is the suspension of habeas corpus – one of the most fundamental rights in the United States which requires specific grounds for detention,” said Gianaris. “Preserving that right against police overreach is crucial to the rule of law and this legislation is critical to ensuring it is protected.”

Last June, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) asked for the suspension of the right for a defendant to be arraigned within 24 hours due to the high volume of arrests made during protests in the wake of the George Floyd murder. New York City Criminal Court Judge James Burke agreed with the NYPD and allowed a blanket exception to normal habeas corpus rules. Gianaris’ legislation would correct this and require specific grounds to be presented for one’s detention within 24 hours of arrest.

The Assembly companion bill will be carried by Assemblymember Diana Richardson (D-Brooklyn), who herself was pepper-sprayed by police officers during a protest following the death of George Floyd.

Attorneys with the New York Legal Aid Society had presented the original writ while representing the protestors. The Legal Aid Society worked in tandem with Gianaris to draft this legislation, strengthening protections around habeas rights.