Queens Lawmakers on the Move Jan. 29, 2021

Queens County City Council News

Adams, Miller to Host COVID-19 Vaccine Town Hall

City Council Member Adrienne Adams
Councilmember I. Daneek Miller

City Councilmember Adrienne Adams (D-Jamaica, Richmond Hill, Rochdale Village, South Ozone Park) and City Councilmember I. Daneek Miller (D-Cambria Heights, Hollis, Jamaica, St. Albans, Queens Village, and Springfield Gardens) hosted a virtual town hall on Wednesday to provide information and address community concerns surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine.

Black and Brown communities have been ravaged, suffering the most cases and deaths from COVID-19. The town hall exchange addressed community concerns, discussed the logistics of the vaccine rollout, the myths circulating about vaccination and the reluctance of people of color to take the vaccine based upon long standing fears resulting from a history of medical racism.

“Communities of color have voiced understandable skepticism about the COVID-19 vaccine and this collaborative town hall was an important way to dispel fears and get the facts on the table,” said Adams, Co-Chair of the Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus. “We must ensure that residents have the opportunity to ask questions so that myths are dispelled. This is a vital effort for our communities to make informed decisions once the vaccination is available to them.”

“We are grateful for the partnership of the Department of Health, our community health experts, and all of the attendees who joined us as we discussed the merits of the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Miller, Co-Chair of the Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus. “Southeast Queens was devastated by this deadly pandemic, and this discussion is vitally important to dispel any urban legends about our path to recovery. Tonight, we chose facts and had a robust conversation about the safety and importance of the vaccine. We’re also doubling down on our efforts to ensure equitable distribution to communities of color, beginning with legislation in the City Council calling on the City and State to collect and release real-time vaccination data and prioritize hardest-hit areas. For the sake of our young folks, seniors and community, Southeast Queens must be a leader in the vaccination effort.”

Panelists included Dr. Torian Easterling of the New York City Department of Health, Dr. Alicia Flowers of Advanced Multi Medical and Dr. Jonathan Rasouli of the Cleveland Clinic. The event was streamed on Queens Public Television and social media, and hosted in partnership with Borough President Donovan Richards, U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks, State Senators Leroy Comrie, John Liu, James Sanders, Jr., State Assemblymembers Vivian Cook, Alicia Hyndman, Clyde Vanel, Khaleel Anderson and Jenifer Rajkumar.

Addabbo: Make Gifted & Talented Program 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) released a statement on Thursday about the Gifted and Talented Program: 

“It is disheartening to see that Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYC Department of Education (NYC DOE) Chancellor Richard Carranza intend to do away with the entry exam for our schools’ Gifted and Talented programs after the Spring 2021 test. Much like with the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT), I believe the Gifted and Talented program admissions test should remain in place, but with improvements to make it more accessible to all children, with better outreach into all communities.”

“I understand the desire to increase diversity in our amazing Gifted and Talented programs, but getting rid of the entrance exam without any details on new entrance requirements is shortsighted. When it comes to the education of our children, we should make sure that we only replace a policy with a detailed, better policy. However, I do stand behind NYC DOE’s efforts to involve community engagement to discuss different ways to enrich the learning experience for our academically advanced students.

“By working together with the community, teachers, parents and students, I believe we can reform the Gifted and Talented entrance exam and the program itself to better service our bright students. I stand with the parents of District 28 — and parents across my Senate district — that do not want to see the standard for admissions for the Gifted and Talented programs abolished, but most importantly for our children, improved and expanded.”

Kim Responds to AG James Report on Nursing Homes and COVID-19 

Assemblymember Ron Kim/Facebook

State Assemblymember Ron Kim (D-Flushing, East Flushing, Willets Point, Linden Hill and Murray Hill) issued the following statement on Thursday in response to New York Attorney General Letitia James’s eye-opening new report on the state’s nursing homes’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic: 

“I believe Attorney General Tish James report on nursing homes shows us that New York State has committed a human rights violation by choosing to protect nursing home profits over the safety of older adults and vulnerable members. In order to hold those who pushed for legal corporate immunity and decided to hide the true nursing home deaths for months fully accountable, we need a non-partisan commission with subpoena power, which we introduced last year. 

This groundbreaking report from the Attorney General’s office confirms what I publicized last spring: that for-profit nursing home executives criminally neglected nursing home residents and staff because they were disincentivized to act more responsibly. The Governor handed out blanket immunity to corporate executives which cost lives and brought undue pain and suffering. It is a business model soaked in blood. Now it is time for a full repeal of Article 30-D, so these families can seek retroactive justice. I want to thank our New York Attorney General Letitia James, for providing a transparent investigation into New York’s nursing home crisis. I look forward to continuing this investigation in our bi-partisan commission in Albany.” 

BP Richards Hosts Hearing on FY22 Queens Budget Priorities

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards

Chair of the Queens Borough Board Borough President Donovan Richards and the rest of the board will hold a virtual public hearing on the Mayor’s Fiscal Year 2022 Preliminary Expense and Capital Budget on Monday.

The purpose of the hearing is to obtain the testimony of Queens Community Boards, community stakeholders, and members of the public regarding the proposals contained in the Mayor’s FY22 Preliminary Budget. This input will be used to develop the Borough Board’s FY22 budget priorities.

Representatives from local organizations will present requests for city funding during the hearing. Members of the public are also encouraged to testify.

Anyone wishing to deliver verbal testimony during the hearing must register online at www.queensbp.org/budget to secure a speaking time slot. For anyone unable to attend the hearing, written testimony will be accepted via email at budget@queensbp.org until February 1 at 5 p.m.

Local organizations can visit www.queensbp.org/budget to find the applications for the FY22 Discretionary Capital Funding and FY22 Discretionary Expense Funding that will be allocated by Borough President Richards.

A livestream of the hearing will be viewable at www.queensbp.org.

The virtual hearing will be held on Monday, February 1 at 10 a.m.

Rozic Joins Stringer in Call to Expand Holocaust Education

Assembly Member Nily Rozic

State Assemblymember Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows) and New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer on Thursday called on the State and City to expand Holocaust education and hate crime awareness and prevention in middle and high schools to combat discrimination and religious intolerance. 

Stringer and Rozic proposed surveying school compliance with Holocaust education; providing outreach and additional resources for coursework, instruction, and curriculum; improving teacher training; and increasing news literacy to help students identify misinformation.

“The egregious display of anti-Semitism during the attack on our nation’s Capitol and uptick in hate crimes around our city are a wake-up call that we must re-commit to educating our young people on the dangers of prejudice and bigotry,” said Stringer. “Schools are an important gateway for teaching civic values, and it is our duty to develop citizens who will stand up against discrimination and promote inclusion and acceptance. It starts in the classroom. That’s why the City should provide more outreach, resources, and training to make sure schools are equipped to effectively teach about the Holocaust, bias, and hate crimes. We cannot delay any longer to improve Holocaust education in our schools – our current students, future generations, and our society depends on it.”

“As we experience historic levels of anti-Semitism in New York and around the country, Never Again needs to be a call to action and not merely a platitude offered on Holocaust Remembrance Day,” said Rozic. “When study after study delineate embarrassing ignorance and misinformation about the Holocaust, we need to rectify the issue at the source – educational requirements. Ensuring that the Holocaust is properly taught in schools coupled with education on recognizing anti-Semitism and other hate crimes is a crucial first step in stopping dangerous conspiracy theories.”

To strengthen and expand Holocaust education, Stringer and Rozic called for:

  1. The New York State Education Department and the New York City Department of Education to survey all middle and high schools’ compliance with teaching Holocaust education in grades 8, 10, and 11, as called for in Assemblymember Rozic’s legislation, Assembly Bill A472.
  2. Outreach and additional resources for schools concerning course work, instruction, and curriculum related to the Holocaust.
  3. Teacher training to better equip educators to effectively teach about the Holocaust, hate, and discrimination.
  4. Increased news literacy for all students to help them identify misinformation, including dangerous misinformation about the Holocaust.