Queens Lawmakers on the Move Feb. 12, 2021

Queens County City Council News

Rajkumar Donates Laptops to Children Displaced by Richmond Hill Fire

State Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar (D-Woodhaven, Ridgewood, Richmond Hill, Ozone Park and Glendale) partnered with the Zara Realty Charitable Foundation of Queens to donate 13 Chromebook laptops to the families and children who lost their homes in the six-alarm fire in Richmond Hill just before Christmas. 

“COVID-19 must not interrupt the education of the children in South Queens. During these difficult times, I am committed to finding the resources the people of my district need and deserve,” Rajkumar said.

Rajkumar led the effort to help the 50 victims of the fire who lost their homes over the holidays. She converted her office into a donation site, where donors quickly filled four rooms floor to ceiling with coats, clothes, food, and gift cards for the victims.

Among the donors was the Zara Realty Charitable Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Jamaica-based real estate company Zara Realty, and the George Subraj Family Foundation, which purchased the 13 laptops. In cooperation with Rajkumar, they will now donate them to the children of the affected families. With remote learning required during the pandemic, this donation will ensure they do not fall behind in their schoolwork. 

Rajkumar, in partnership with Zara, Community Board 9 Vice Chair Sherry Algredo, and P.S. 90 Principal Adrienne Ubertini, will distribute the Chromebooks and other supplies to those impacted on Friday, February 12, 2021 at her office at 83-91 Woodhaven Blvd, Woodhaven, New York at 1p.m. 

Constantinides’ Renewable Rikers Act Passes in Council

City Council Member Costa Constantinides

City Councilmember Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Woodside) sponsored the Renewable Rikers Act which passed in the New York City Council on Thursday. 

The Act will transfer jurisdiction of Rikers Island from the Department of Correction (DOC) to the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) and directs the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability (MOS) to conduct a feasibility study on the island’s potential to generate and store renewable energy. Under the Act, DOC will also be prohibited from operating jails on the island after August 31, 2027. The Renewable Rikers vision emerged from conversations about the post-carceral future of the island, led by survivors of Rikers who advocated for its closure, in partnership with environmental justice leaders.

“The 413 acres of Rikers Island have, for far too long, embodied an unjust and racist criminal justice system,” said Constantinides. “Far too many New Yorkers found themselves caught in a cycle of over-policing and over-incarceration symbolized by an island named for the family of a slave catcher. Now, however, we will have a golden opportunity to put the principles of the Green New Deal into practice with the Renewable Rikers Act. These bills will offer the city a pathway to building a hub for sustainability and resiliency that can serve as a model to cities around the world.”

The package consists of two bills, Intro. 1592 and Intro. 1593. Intro. 1592 establishes a process to manage the transition of Rikers Island away from DOC. Intro. 1593 will require the city to study how building renewable resources paired with battery storage on the island can tie into the city’s long-term energy plan to phase out fossil fuel-fired power plants established as part of the Climate Mobilization Act. 

Holden’s Small Business Relief Bill Passes

City Council Member Bob Holden

City Councilmember Robert Holden’s (D-Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Ridgewood, Woodhaven, Woodside) bill, Int. 2044, passed unanimously at Thursday’s stated meeting of the New York City Council. 

The new law will provide much-needed relief for small businesses by extending the moratorium on penalties related to businesses’ outdoor signage and waiving permit fees.

Holden said: “Everyone is talking a lot about helping our small businesses these days, but this bill, Int. 2044, will actually help them in a real, quantifiable way that helps them save some money. Small businesses are the lifeblood of our local economy, but they’ve been hemorrhaging throughout this pandemic. Our city government has to be nurturing, not adversarial. It has long been too difficult to run a business in New York City, but it has become almost impossible.

Small businesses are made of people- started by someone who stakes their life savings or takes a chance by taking out a loan. Many of the owners and employees of small establishments are immigrants, working hard for their piece of the American Dream. The proprietors and employees of the Mom and Pop storefronts in my district and all over New York struggle to feed their families, pay for their children’s education, braces and clothing. This law will set aside a little more money for those families’ needs.

If the city doesn’t stop nickel-and-diming our small businesses and help them in meaningful ways, like this bill does, the only sign we’ll see on them is ‘out of business.’”

Int. 2044 expands and amends Local Law 28 of 2019. Prior to Local Law 28, our small businesses were being hit with fines of up to $20,000 for sign and awning violations. Int. 2044 extends the expired two-year moratorium on sign fee violations for two additional years. It also extends the temporary Department of Buildings assistance program for two additional years, which assists business owners in legalizing their signs. For the first time, 100% of permit fees will be waived.

Gianaris Pushes Theft and Fraud Prevention Legislation

Senator Michael Gianaris

Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside, parts of Woodside, Maspeth, Ridgewood, Woodhaven) is pushing his legislation (S.166) to prevent more people from falling victim to scams ahead of this Valentine’s Day. 

The Federal Trade Commission estimates Americans lost $201 million in romance scams in 2019 alone – a number that’s grown six times since 2015. 

“This Valentine’s Day, New York has no love for those who seek to scam people out of their money” said Gianaris. “New Yorkers deserve the strongest protections against predators and fraud. I am committed to keeping everyone safe from these scammers.”

According to the FBI, romance scams happen when a person using a fake identity online gains the trust or affection of a victim, and uses the prospect of a romantic relationship to steal money from the victim. Often, these scammers encourage victims to send money using fund transfers.

Gianaris’ legislation will require financial institutions to provide a warning to customers of the danger of consumer fraud when transferring funds.

Addabbo Hosts Workshop on Poison Safety

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) is hosting a workshop about how to keep your family safe from common household poisons later this month. 

“As we continue to remain mostly in our homes to do our best to keep ourselves, our families, and each other safe from the Coronavirus, it is important to know how to keep our homes as safe and healthy as possible,” Addabbo said. “The information in this educational workshop can help prevent an accident in the home that could have been easily avoided.”

The workshop, which is a free virtual “Healthy Homes” educational workshop, will be hosted jointly with Empire BlueCross BlueShield, and NYC Poison Control. Eduardo Torres from NYC Poison Control will lead the discussion. 

It will take place on Monday, February 22 at 7 p.m.

To join on Zoom, visit this link. Or, you can enter the meeting ID: 995 3685 0789 and Passcode: 420041.

Participants can also dial in at: + 1 929 205 6099

For more information about this and other events, contact Addabbo’s office at 718-738-1111.