Political Odds & Ends, Dec. 2, 2021

OddsEnds

Menchaca Pressures Johnson on Legislation Protecting Immigrants

City Councilman Carlos Menchaca
City Councilman Carlos Menchaca

City Council Member Carlos Menchaca (D-Brooklyn) and advocates for immigrants yesterday sent a letter to City Council Speaker Cory Johnson (D-Manhattan) urging him to immediately pass legislation that would allow immigrants to sue the city whenever they are wrongfully turned over to immigration authorities. 

There are only two council voting sessions in December before a new council and mayor take office. The letter states in part:

“Most immediately, we urge the New York City Council to pass Intro 2348-2021. The strengthened bill will ensure that when people are detained by ICE as a result of a violation of the City’s detainer law — whether because of unlawful transfer by local law enforcement or the unlawful provision of information to ICE — they have the opportunity to pursue a private right of action and, in the process, deter future violations of city law. Without this bill, people will have no redress for the devastating harms committed against them when the laws are violated.” 

Menchaca is the sponsor of the legislation.

“How can we say we are a sanctuary city while at the same time allow violations of our sanctuary laws to go unpunished. During an oversight hearing, the Department of Corrections stated that not once has Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) presented a valid judicial warrant to detain an immigrant. And yet, there are scores of individuals who have been handed over to ICE by DOC and other city officials,” said Menchaca.

“Immigrants need a course of relief whenever their rights are violated. Protecting the rights of our immigrant neighbors protects the rights of all New Yorkers,” he added.

Grodenchick Announces Plan To Better Manage stormwater Flooding 

City Councilmember Barry Grodenchik

City Council Member Barry Grodenchik (D-Queens joined with the City’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Vincent Sapienza yesterday to announce plans to transform seven large concrete medians in Queens Village into lush, green drainage spaces to better manage stormwater and reduce neighborhood flooding.  

By absorbing a minimum of 5 million gallons of stormwater annually from Hillside Avenue and Winchester Boulevard in the vicinity of Martin Van Buren High School, the green medians will create additional capacity in the neighborhood’s sewer system which will help to reduce local flooding and any sewer overflows into Jamaica Bay.  

The project is estimated to cost approximately $2.5 million, is anticipated to break ground in late 2022 and construction will continue for up to twelve months.

“Huge concrete road medians have been a blight on our community for decades,” said Grodenchik.  “Thanks to the advocacy of the Rocky Hill Civic Association and DEP’s commitment to green infrastructure, new green spaces will reduce flooding, improve waterways, and beautify the streetscape.  Most importantly, they will create a cleaner, greener, healthier environment for local residents.”

Clarke Introduces Bill to Protect Consumers from Free Online Trial Scams

U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke

U.S. Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (D-Brooklyn) and U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md) this week introduced new bicameral legislation to protect consumers from online free trial scams and deceptive marketing tactics. 

The lawmakers’ new bill – the Consumer Online Payment Transparency and Integrity Act, or Consumer OPT-IN Act – puts the onus on companies, instead of consumers, in renewing or extending contracts.

Too often, companies use free trial offers and unclear terms and conditions to trap consumers into subscriptions. From 2017-2019, the Better Business Bureau received 58,400 complaints related to free trials scams. Additionally, companies often use software and interfaces, called dark patterns that subtly trick users and make it harder for consumers to end these subscriptions and stop unwanted charges. To help prevent these practices, the Consumer OPT-IN Act would require companies to make a number of changes to better protect and inform consumers.

“I am proud to introduce this important legislation with Senator Van Hollen that will protect consumers and create greater levels of transparency and accountability when it comes to subscription-based services,” said Clarke. “All too frequently, subscription services are taking advantage of people, particularly our most vulnerable populations, and trapping them into paying for goods and services they never intended to sign up for. Enough is enough. Our legislation will put an end to these deceptive practices and protect consumers from being misled into endless monthly payments without their expressly given consent.”

Malliotakis Introduces Oversight Legislation of Federal Dollars Given to States and Major Cities

U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis

U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (D-Staten Island/Brooklyn) this week introduced bills that would create Special Inspectors General to oversee the spending of federal dollars given to state governments and governments of major cities with populations greater than one million people.

Both bills are modeled after language that established the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction in 2008.

“My legislation aims to hold city and state governments accountable by establishing Inspectors General to conduct audits and investigations of programs and operations funded with federal dollars,” said Malliotakis. “New Yorkers need to look no further than programs like de Blasio’s wasteful Thrive NYC, failed renewal schools program, or the state’s decision to give unemployment, stimulus, and disaster relief aid to those in the country illegally. My goal is to ensure tax dollars are spent appropriately on their intended purpose and not squandered.”

For decades, Congress has formed independent Officers of Inspectors General (OIGs) to oversee and monitor Executive Branch operations. Most recently, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) identified over $40 billion in taxpayer money was wasted, lost, or abused in Afghanistan between 2002 and July 2021.

“Inspectors General have saved governments and taxpayers billions of dollars through their independent oversight work. Unfortunately, no such entity exists to oversee the spending of federal dollars in states or big cities, which is why taxpayer dollars have historically been wasted, abused, or defrauded. These bills would prevent further abuse by demanding transparency on the part of state and local governments,” Malliotakis added.

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