Political Odds & Ends, Nov. 22, 2021

Chalk loudspeaker and inscription odds and ends on black chalkboard
Black chalkboard with drawing of a loudspeaker and inscription odds and ends

Hochul Marks Transgender Day of Remembrance

Kathy Hochul
Gov. Kathy Hochul

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Saturday, Nov. 20 lit New York State landmarks in pink, white, and light blue in remembrance of Transgender people nationwide.

“We light New York’s landmarks tonight to remember those precious lives we have lost and reflect upon the violence perpetrated against transgender, gender nonconforming and nonbinary individuals just for being who they are,” said Hochul.

“Here in New York, we are committed to being a place where transgender individuals can experience the values of belonging, respect, and dignity. As Governor, I will continue fighting for our transgender community, to build a New York where every one of us can live free from fear of discrimination or violence,” she added.

The landmarks lit in recognition of Transgender Day of Remembrance included One World Trade Center, Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, Kosciuszko Bridge, The H. Carl McCall SUNY Building, State Education Building, Alfred E. Smith State Office Building, State Fairgrounds – Main Gate & Expo Center, Niagara Falls, The “Franklin D. Roosevelt” Mid-Hudson Bridge, Grand Central Terminal – Pershing Square Viaduct, Albany International Airport Gateway, The Lake Placid Olympic Jumping Complex and the MTA LIRR – East End Gateway at Penn Station.

Adams, Williams, Lander release Joint Statement on Rittenhouse Verdict & Planned Protests

Mayor-Elect Eric Adams
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams
Comptroller-elect Brad Lander

Mayor-Elect Eric Adams, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, and Comptroller-Elect Brad Lander released a joint statement on Saturday calling for the reversal of dangerous gun laws in America, after Kyle Rittenhouse, who fatally shot two people and wounded another in Kenosha, was found not guilty on all charges by a Wisconsin jury. 

The three elected leaders underscored the urgent need for safety and justice as New Yorkers took to the streets in protest following Friday’s verdict. 

“The Rittenhouse ruling should be the last horrifying piece of evidence we need to reverse dangerous gun laws in America and reject the culture of hate and bias that leads to violence. Whether it’s in Southern Wisconsin or East New York, guns sold in one state are used to create death and mayhem on the streets of another every day,” the lawmakers said.

“The Supreme Court and other states must recognize this crisis in our country and uphold responsible laws that prohibit the concealed carry of guns, as well as the easy purchase of firearms that can be transported from one community to another with malicious intent. New Yorkers are united in support of safety and justice, and against violence and division. As some of us take to the streets today to make our voices heard, we must demonstrate our conviction through peaceful protest so that the country hears our message for a better way forward.”

AG James Outlines Steps to Stop Covid Spread

Attorney General Letitia James

With COVID rates rising in upstate New York, Attorney General Letitia James yesterday released a set of ideas that New York should take immediately to bring the infection rates under control and help stop future surges before they happen.

“We need to change how New York operates and that starts with big ideas that break up the status quo. Sadly, New York has been making the same mistakes over and over again on COVID. These ideas will not only help us address the recent spikes, but they will also help us plan for the future so that we can stop surges before they happen. Too many communities – especially upstate – are seeing spikes in COVID infections and the time to act is now,” said James.

The ideas include:

Use Trusted Community Leaders: New Yorkers trust people they know. Therefore, New York must expand the use of PSAs, text messaging, robocalls, emails, and DMV records, backed up by trusted community validators from vaccine-hesitant communities, to remind New Yorkers to get the vaccine. 

State Buying Power for Home Testing: New York should use the state’s purchasing power to secure millions of at-home tests. After the state purchases the tests, make them available free for pick up at places like libraries, firehouses, and schools. 

Data Integrity of Excelsior Pass: Upgrade the Excelsior Pass so fewer people are rejected because of data discrepancy and make it easier and faster to add a booster shot.

Nursing Homes: Step up inspection and enforcement at nursing homes to ensure implementation of infection control standards, adequate staffing, and more health and wellness checks for seniors.

Other ideas James had included paying people $200 for Vaccines, doubling down on booster shots and Expand Pop-Up and Mobile Vaccination Sites.

Adams Hosts Fifth Annual ‘Plantsgiving’ Distribution

Mayor-elect Eric Adams on Friday hosted the fifth annual ‘Plantsgiving’ distribution at Brooklyn Borough Hall, on the eve of the final Thanksgiving of his tenure as borough president. 

At the event, which was sponsored by Wegmans, UA3, Kate Farms, The Campaign Against Hunger, Men Elevating Leadership, and National Grid, volunteers helped to distribute more than 5,000 pounds of produce to Brooklynites in need for the upcoming holiday.

The event highlighted Adams’ ongoing commitment to ending food insecurity while promoting a healthy lifestyle for all Brooklynites, which stems from his health journey of overcoming Type 2 diabetes with a whole-food, plant-based diet. 

“Our annual Plantsgiving distribution is all about giving back: to our neighbors, our communities, and our borough. Even amid the challenges of the past year, the fact that we get to gather with friends and loved ones to share a holiday meal should inspire gratitude. Borough Hall has been so fortunate to work with some amazing partners on these annual distributions, and I want to personally extend my thanks to all of them for making this event possible, and for serving the entire borough in various ways. I wish a happy, restful, and safe Thanksgiving to all,” said Adams.

Kim’s Statement on Assembly Judiciary Committee’s Impeachment Report

Assemblymember Ron Kim (Photo by Yuhline, CC BY-SA 3.0)
Assemblymember Ron Kim

Assemblymember Ron Kim (D-Queens) on Friday issued the following statement on the upcoming release of the Assembly Judiciary Committee’s impeachment report on former Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“As we wait for the release of the Assembly Judiciary Committee’s impeachment report, our legislative body must prepare itself for an extensive impeachment trial so we can hold Andrew Cuomo accountable for his crimes. We already have anecdotal corroborations that the disgraced governor broke the Public Officers Law multiple times, and therefore, we must see this report to its logical end and impeach the former governor,” said Kim. 

“Impeachment is not just the physical removal of Andrew Cuomo. It also includes the removal of the governor’s criminal misconduct that hangs over our legislative body, as well as banning him from seeking public office in New York State ever again.

“I must also share my utter dismay and disappointment that the Assembly report stopped short of scrutinizing the larger story around the nursing home data. Suppressing life and death data is at the centerpiece of this investigation. From there, we can investigate whose financial interests were tangled up into this conspiratorial web — the web used to convince the public that their hospitals and nursing homes were safe havens for our elders, when nothing could be further from the truth. Our grieving families deserve these truths, which is why we cannot relent on what must come next: full impeachment of the governor and indictment of his conspirators for defrauding the public in order to seek financial gain.”

Braunstein, Liu Announce Liquor License Suspension at Kloud Tequila Grill in Auburndale

Assemblymember Edward Braunstein. Photo from nyassembly.gov
State Sen. John Liu

Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D-Queens) and Senator John Liu (D-Queens) announced Saturday that the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) has officially suspended the license of “Silk Hookah Lounge LLC,” known as Kloud Tequila Grill and Hookah Lounge. 

Effective immediately, no alcohol is allowed to be sold or consumed on the premises at 192-08 Northern Boulevard in Auburndale.

The business has been the source of numerous health, safety and quality of life concerns in recent months. Local residents and small business owners have reported a host of disturbing issues, including the sale of alcohol to intoxicated patrons, public urination, drag racing, public sex acts, loud music and littering.

On November 13th, concerns escalated when a shooting that left two people wounded occurred outside of the business. The NYPD investigation determined that the shooting followed an altercation where patrons were denied entry during a private party taking place inside. Officers apprehended a 19 year old with a loaded firearm at the scene.

While the license suspension is an important step in the right direction, Braunstein, Liu and civic leaders are calling on the SLA to permanently revoke Kloud’s license in order to protect the welfare of the Auburndale community.

“The issues involving Kloud Tequila Grill extend well beyond unneighborly behavior. For months, the local community has been raising concerns that the ownership and patrons of this establishment were engaged in activity that severely compromised public health and safety,” said Braunstein. “While the SLA’s ruling to suspend Kloud’s liquor license is a good first start, more needs to be done. I continue to urge the SLA to do the right thing by the Auburndale community and permanently revoke Kloud’s license. Enough is enough.”

“Now that SLA has pulled their liquor license, we can say with confidence that the forecast for Kloud Tequila Grill is dark and stormy,” said Liu. “The recent gun violence of the last week was the last straw for the state, but our community knew Kloud was dangerous from the beginning. Any business that operates with such blatant disregard for their neighbors should take warning that our community won’t stand for it, and we will fight tooth and nail to make sure our neighborhoods are safe.”