NY Lawmakers on the Move, March 3, 2022

Lawmakers on the Move

Espaillat Leads Push to Posthumously Honor Civil Rights Activist Bob Moses 

U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat

U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-Manhattan,Bronx),  Frederica Wilson (D-FL), and Jamie Raskin (D-MD) introduced legislation yesterday to award a posthumous Congressional Gold Medal to Robert ‘Bob’ Parris Moses to honor his contributions to the American civil rights movement and equal access to education. 

Since 1772, the Congressional Gold Medal has been the most distinguished recognition bestowed by Congress on individuals or institutions for their outstanding achievements and contributions to our nation.

Bob Moses dedicated his life’s work to advancing equal rights for Black Americans, drawing praise from prominent members of the Civil Rights Movement such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He began his career as an active member of the fight for voting rights, working to register poor, illiterate Black Mississippians to vote. He worked with the NAACP and served as driving force and a leader as part of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, serving as Field Secretary, leading the charge for both groups as they made strides towards equality.

In 1982, Bob Moses founded The Algebra Project to support K-12 math literacy for children from historically marginalized communities. Since its origination, the organization has served over 40,000 students across America. As an educator and civil rights advocate, Bob Moses believed that the absence of math literacy in urban and rural communities across our nation today is an issue as urgent as the lack of registered Black voters in Mississippi was in 1961.

“Bob Moses dedicated his career to improving the quality of life for Black Americans across the United States, and the impacts of his tireless work are still felt throughout our communities by the countless lives he enriched,” said Espaillat. “While Bob shunned the limelight throughout most of his lifetime, his legacy represents the best of a generation of activists whose efforts helped to change the very fabric of American society in ways that are still contested and unfolding today – and we owe him an immeasurable debt of gratitude. He must be remembered as a patriot who gave everything to do the back-breaking labor of an entire generation, and I am proud to lead the call for this much-deserved honor with my colleagues today.”

Walker Spotlights Mother Gaston to Begin Women’s History Month

Assemblywoman Latrice Walker

Assembly member Latrice Walker (D-Brooklyn) in her weekly e-newsletter  spotlighted Rosetta Gaston, a historian, educator and activist, who embraced her Brownsville community with so much love and wisdom, she earned the nickname “Mother Gaston.”

Born in 1865, Gaston was committed to educating young people and fighting for civil rights. She was the founder of the Brownsville Heritage House, a multi-cultural center that focuses on history, culture, the arts and education. It includes exhibits featuring historical figures, sculptures and photo collages depicting Brownsville and surrounding communities.

The Heritage House occupies the top floor of the Stone Avenue Branch Public Library building, the first public facility of its kind in the country built specifically for children.

The Brownsville Heritage House began in Gaston’s home, where she taught small groups of children about Black history. That paved the way for the cultural center which opened its doors on March 31, 1981 — month after her death at age 96. Later that year, Stone Avenue was renamed Mother Gaston Boulevard to honor her legacy of service to the community.

Meng Rally To Advance Infrastructure Spending On Accessible Subway Stations

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens), subway riders, and disability rights activists will rally at the inaccessible Rego Park 63rd Drive train station on the M and R subway lines, urging New York State to take the opportunity offered by the federal Investment in Infrastructure and Jobs Act of 2021 to accelerate accessible station upgrades and fund related rider priorities including more frequent public transit service.

Joining Meng will be members and leaders of the grassroots Riders Alliance, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, Rise and Resist-Elevator Action Group, Straphangers Campaign, UPSTAND, and more.

The group will urge state leaders to invest federal infrastructure funding in more station elevators and more frequent buses and trains.

The rally is slated for 11 a.m., Friday, March 4 at the 63rd Drive-Rego Park subway station (NW corner of 63rd Drive & Queens Blvd in front of Chic’s Place clothing store).

Forrest Echoes Concerns About Less Is More Act Implementation 

Assemblymember-elect Phara Souffrant Forrest

Assembly Member Phara Souffrant Forrest (D-Brooklyn) yesterday voiced serious concerns that the Less Is More Act, which she sponsored and that went into effect on March 1 is not being completely implemented.

The lawmaker says many individuals are now being illegally detained due to these implementation failures, including on Rikers Island which is seeing an ongoing humanitarian crisis.

Under the Less Is More Act, individuals held in jail on a parole warrant have a right to a hearing to determine whether they should be released. This hearing should take place within 24 hours of an individual’s incarceration. So far, however, DOCCS has only committed to implementing this aspect of the bill for individuals who are arrested after March first. For those who have been sitting in jail for as many as 15 weeks, justice is being deferred, and hence, denied.

“In order to make good on our obligations to the People of New York, DOCCS must immediately rectify this issue. Today, the Legal Aid Society is filing a writ of habeus corpus seeking the immediate release of 91 individuals who are sitting on a dollar’s bail, but are continuing to be held without receiving the release hearing to which they are entitled. I support the efforts of the Legal Aid Society, the individuals incarcerated, and their families in seeking the justice which is their legal right,” said Forrest.

“Governor Hochul has proved a tremendous leader on the issue of parole reform, and for that I truly applaud her efforts. Today, I call on her once again to take leadership and direct DOCCS and other state agencies to comply with the law and ensure that everyone receives the justice they are due,” the lawmaker added.

Myrie Bill Taking Aim at Pandemic Fraud Passes Senate Committee

State Senator Zellnor Myrie
State Senator Zellnor Myrie

State Sen. Zellnor Y. Myrie (D-Brooklyn) yesterday saw the Senate Committee on Consumer Protection pass his legislation that would increase civil penalties for white-collar frauds and scams associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“New Yorkers have suffered enough throughout this pandemic without having to worry about theft, scams and fraud,” said Myrie. “Unfortunately, COVID-19 has brought out many bad corporate actors who try to make a quick buck during this time of tragedy, scarcity and confusion. My legislation would sharply increase the fraudsters’ cost of doing business here in New York.”

The COVID-19 Fraud Accountability Act (S.4954-B) would sharply increase civil financial penalties for white-collar crime committed in connection with COVID-19, imposing a civil penalty of three times the amount of any unlawful gain (or $25,000, whichever is greater). The bill would increase penalties for white-collar crimes arising from the unique circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as future emergencies and market abnormalities defined by law.