NY Lawmakers on the Move, July 6, 2022

Lawmakers on the Move

Vernikov demands meeting with CUNY chancellor or his immediate resignation

City Councilmember Inna Vernikov

City Council Member Inna Vernikov (R-Brooklyn) yesterday put out an ultimatum to City University of New York Chancellor Matos Rodríguez – either meet with her or she will demand his resignation.

The ultimatum comes after Rodríguez last week bailed on a hearing exposing anti-semitism at CUNY, called by the city council’s Higher Education Committee. The hearing was postponed to accommodate Rodriguez’ schedule, but the chancellor, who takes a salary of $670,000 of taxpayer dollars, did not show up.  After delaying the hearing for a month, the Chancellor did not even show up virtually – instead, he sent a lawyer and two CUNY representatives to help him avoid answering questions.

“Chancellor Matos Rodríguez is responsible to the people of New York City. He does not have the privilege of picking and choosing which ethnic/religious groups he will meet with. Since it was too inconvenient for him to make it to our hearing on the 16th floor of City Hall, we will come to his office. And just in case he refuses to open his door, we will slip a drafted resignation letter underneath it and leave a box for him to collect his belongings in,” said Vernikov is a e-newsletter.

Vernikov will host a press conference at 10 a.m., today in front of the chancellor’s office at 205 East 42nd Street in Manhattan. She will then attempt to meet with him at his office.

QDA Katz announces two key appointments

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz yesterday announced the appointments of two executives who will assist  in streamlining inter-office processes and enhance public safety protocols within Queens County. 

Retired NYPD Assistant Chief Thomas Conforti has been appointed as Chief Investigator and veteran prosecutor  Theresa M. Shanahan has been appointed as Executive Assistant District Attorney for Criminal Practice and  Policy.  

“Chief Conforti and EADA Shanahan have dedicated their entire careers  to keeping people safe by investigating drivers of crime and seeking justice on behalf of victims. At the same  time, they have each worked to improve policy development and protocol implementation to ensure better  efficiency within their respective government agencies. I have no doubt that both set of skills will prove to  be extremely beneficial to this Office. I look forward to working closely with Chief Conforti and EADA  Shanahan on comprehensive policy and safety measures for the people of this borough,” said Katz.

Conforti is a 30-year veteran of the New York City Police Department and began his  distinguished career with the 73rd Precinct in Brownsville. Throughout his time with the NYPD, Chief  Conforti served as Commanding Officer at several Queens County precincts prior to being promoted to  Inspector in 2016 and serving as Commanding Officer of the Crime Prevention Division. 

Shanahan is a Queens native who joined the Office of the Kings County District  Attorney in August 1990. Since January 1995, she served in management roles in that office, beginning as  Deputy Chief of the Early Case Assessment Bureau. A graduate of Saint Vincent College and the St. John’s University School of Law, Shanahan is now tasked with leading the Queens District Attorney’s Criminal Practice and Policy Division.  

AG James provides resources to hotels to protect human trafficking victims

Attorney General Letitia James

New York Attorney General Letitia James yesterday took action to prevent human trafficking and protect New Yorkers as summer travel and cross-border movement increases. 

James provided hotel and tourism associations with cards that contain human trafficking information and hotline numbers and reminded the lodging facilities of their obligation to post the cards in visible locations to help victims. Traffickers rely on the hospitality industry for moving, controlling, and delivering victims of commercial sex or forced labor. In a letter to hotel and tourism associations, James urges them to do their part to report, respond to, and prevent human trafficking.

“Human trafficking is unconscionable and hurts communities in New York and across the country,” said James. “Today my office is reminding hotels, motels, and lodging facilities across the state of their obligation to prevent and report human trafficking. As summer travel increases and more people move around the state, it’s critical for hotels to do their part to stop human trafficking and support victims. Posting the national human trafficking hotline number and other critical information in visible locations can help save lives.”

James sent her letter to 10 statewide hotel and tourism associations that have hundreds of members, including some of the biggest chains. New York law requires hotels and lodging facilities to post informational cards that contain only information concerning services for human trafficking victims and that prominently include the national human trafficking hotline telephone number. Informational cards must be made available in plain view in a conspicuous place and manner in the public restrooms, individual guest rooms, and near the public entrance or in another conspicuous location in clear view of the public and lodging employees where similar information is customarily displayed.

Rajkumar’s bill supporting crime victims gets signed into law

Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar

Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar (D-Queens) announced yesterday that Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law A7502, a bill she sponsored that aids victims of the crimes of gross reckless endangerment. 

Under this new law, victims of these crimes will be eligible for the costs of mental health counseling, lost wages, healthcare and other crime-related expenses. 

Currently, the state Office of Victim Services focuses on reimbursing victims of crimes that physically harm the victim. Non-physical crimes are not covered. 

Rajkumar’s bill changes that so that crime victims who suffer trauma from the non-physical crime of gross reckless endangerment are also covered.  Specifically, the bill will expand eligibility to those without physical injuries who are the victims of reckless endangerment in the first or second degree. For example, crime victims such as those who narrowly avoided being struck by a bullet or speeding car – who are not injured but nonetheless suffered from a traumatic incident – will be eligible for benefits. The bill also adds the costs of cleaning and securing a crime scene as reimbursable expenses. 

With the expansion of eligibility to non-physical crimes, New York state sets a national trend, with its victim compensation program becoming similar to those of Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Vermont, among other states.

“New York State will now empower crime victims, giving them the support they need to get back on their feet after crimes of gross reckless endangerment that leave emotional and mental scars,” said Rajkumar. “With the signing of my bill, we are recognizing that all victims of serious crimes need our help. I thank Governor Hochul and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for understanding this reality. This new law will ensure no technicalities stand in the way of a victim of a traumatizing crime receiving the aid they need.”