Political Odds & Ends, Dec. 6, 2021


Ramos, Salazar, Rivera Lobby Hochul to Grant Clemency for Jailed Man

State Sen. Jessica Ramos
State Sen. Julia Salazar
Sen. Gustavo Rivera

Senators Jessica Ramos (D-Queens), Julia Salazar (D-Brooklyn) and Gustavo Rivera (D-Bronx), along with The Legal Aid Society yesterday called on Governor Kathy Hochul to grant a clemency application currently pending for Reginald Randolph, who is currently serving a state prison sentence of 2-4 years for stealing NyQuil from Duane Reade. 

Randolph, 58, disabled, and was incarcerated at Rikers Island for over 850 days before being transferred to state prison on the aforementioned charge, which did not involve an act of violence, brandishing a weapon, or making threats.

“Mr. Randolph must be granted clemency so he can be released. His story is compelling and calls for action. It is simply wrong to let him spend any more time incarcerated. The Governor has the authority to correct this inhuman situation and we ask that she exercise her power to let Mr. Randolph out,” said Salazr, chair of the Senate Crime Victims, Crime & Correction Committee.  

“Not only is it immoral to keep an individual imprisoned for years for a non-violent offense tied to struggles with addiction, it is counterproductive to their rehabilitation. As our laws continue to change in an effort to make our system more just when dealing with non-violent drug-related crimes, we have a responsibility to show clemency to those that have been incarcerated under outdated and draconian policies. Mr. Randolph needs treatment and assistance as he deals with his addiction and medical conditions, which is why I am urging the Governor to strongly consider his request for clemency,” said Rivera.

“Mr. Randolph has been incarcerated since 2018 for stealing medicine. The Governor can commute his sentence and return a 58-year-old man to the care of his community or she can continue to deny a man with a disability a chance to access healthcare. I hope Governor Hochul makes the right decision and grants him clemency soon,” said Ramos.

Braunstein, Liu Call to Suspend Removal of Geographic Priorities for Queens High Schools

Assembly Member Edward Braunstein

Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D-Queens) and Senator John Liu (D-Queens) on Friday sent a letter to NYC Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter in response to the Department of Education’s recent decision to eliminate geographic priorities in the high school admissions process and issued the following statements:

“With many Queens high schools operating at well above 100 percent capacity, and in one case, even in excess of 200 percent, constructing new high schools at appropriate sites and increasing available seats in the borough should be a top priority,” said Braunstein. “In addition to chronic overcrowding in the borough’s schools, Queens students are faced with a unique lack of transportation options, especially in the eastern portion of the borough. We urge the DOE to suspend the elimination of geographic priorities in Queens until the City can sufficiently alleviate the existing overcrowding in the borough’s high schools.”

“Ending geographic priority at the 11th hour injects chaos and uncertainty into an already complicated high school application process,” said Liu, chairperson of Senate Committee on NYC Education. “Queens is in desperate need of both more high school seats and transportation options, and this last minute change sends our kids outside the borough without the public transportation to get them there. We must keep geographic priority indefinitely, lest we leave yet another mess for the incoming administration to clean up.”

Malliotakis Leads House Bill to Stop $450k Payments to Illegal Immigrants

U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis. Photo from her Congressional website.

U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn) on Friday led 22 of her House Republican colleagues in introducing the ‘Protect American Tax-payer Dollars from Illegal Immigration Act,’ legislation that would prevent $450,000 settlement payments for migrants who broke our laws and came into the United States illegally.

This legislation comes as the Biden Administration last month indicated it was considering giving payments of $450,000 per person for separated migrants and children. For perspective, if a service member is killed in action, their next of kin is given an insurance payment of $400,000.

“My constituents work hard, pay taxes and expect the government to put them, not illegal immigrants, first,” said Malliotakis. “Not only does Biden’s plan to give $450,000 to those who broke our laws further incentivize illegal immigration, it’s a slap in the face to hardworking Americans and those immigrants, like my parents, who followed the rules and never expected anything except the opportunity to pursue their American Dream.”

Additionally, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), along with Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) have introduced a companion bill in the Senate.

Gillibrand, Velazquez, Brewer Join Asian Community Leaders to Encourage COVID Vaccination

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (Photo Credit: ballotpedia.org)
U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) today will join U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-Lower Manhattan/Queens/Brooklyn), Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer today will join nonprofits and community leaders from the Asian-American community to encourage vaccination against COVID-19 and to discuss issues facing the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. 

Gillibrand will tour Hamilton-Madison House’s Naturally Occurring Retirement Community and child care facility and meet with community members. Hamilton-Madison House is a non-profit organization that provides a variety of immigrant and community services to the AAPI community in New York City. 

Since its establishment in 1898, the organization has served children, the elderly, new immigrants, and refugees, primarily in Chinatown and the Lower East Side. It currently provides culturally appropriate behavioral health, early childhood, community, and senior services to over 10,000 adults and children each year and has served as a COVID-19 vaccination clinic during the pandemic. 

The event is slated for 9:45 a.m., today, Dec. 6 at the Hamilton-Madison House, 50 Madison Street in Lower Manhattan.