NY Lawmakers on the Move, Aug. 4, 2022

Lawmakers on the Move

Speaker Adams Calls for Council Districting Maps to Ensure Communities of Interest Are Protected 

City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams

City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams (D-Queens) yesterday outlined her concerns with the first draft maps that the NYC Districting Commission recently put out, saying it divides communities of color and communities of interest, conflicting with the Charter-mandated protections to ensure fair representation. 

The Speaker also reiterated her encouragement for the public to participate in the next steps of the redistricting process. 

“The Council is deeply committed to maintaining the integrity of the New York City Districting Commission, and it is critical that an independent process bound by the guidelines and protections set forth in the Charter is allowed to proceed. There are important foundational principles that need to be prioritized in this process, yet the first set of preliminary maps appear to violate these and do not ensure the adequate representation of certain groups of New Yorkers. 

“Maintaining three districts that remain entirely in Staten Island is inconsistent with population changes, creates a malapportionment issue that undermines the ‘one person-one vote’ principle, and forces irrational changes to districts in other boroughs. This seems to be a driving factor in the Commission’s preliminary district boundaries undermining protections for historically marginalized communities of color and for communities of interest, as mandated by the Voting Rights Act and New York City Charter. 

“In particular, the preliminary maps break up historically Latino communities in Sunset Park and Red Hook, diluting their voices across multiple districts. Communities of interest in South Brooklyn that have historically been kept together would be separated. Filipino and Tibetan communities in Western Queens would also be divided into multiple districts. 

“In Southeast Queens, the draft maps threaten to significantly dilute the impact of Black voters by placing them in a new district as an overwhelming minority. Rochdale Village, which is now the largest affordable co-op development of Black homeowners in Queens, continues to be separated into different districts despite being a united community that deserves to be in a singular district. Additionally, South Asian communities in Southeast Queens continue to be unfairly divided, adding to the marginalization of their voices and representation,” said Adams. 

Brewer stands with Sisters in Purple against domestic violence

City Council Member Gale Brewer

City Councilmember Gale Brewer (D-Manhattan) stood with Sisters in Purple yesterday to rally with a call to action for elected officials to strengthen laws and resources for survivors of domestic violence.

“In 2021 there were 987 complaints of domestic violence responded to by police in the 20th and 24th Precinct, on the Upper West Side. This is a fraction of the total 89,032 complaints responded to citywide, reported by NYPD in compliance with Local Law 38 of 2019. This is 10,000 more complaints than 2020, but aligned with 2018 and 2019,” said Brewer. 

“It is very concerning that domestic violence calls decreased during the height of the pandemic, because we know that people were suffering and would not or could not reach out for help. According to the New York State Coalition against Domestic Violence New York has the highest demand for domestic violence services, and the highest number of unmet requests in the United States,” the lawmaker added.

Brewer said New York is making good progress on preventing and addressing domestic violence and intimate partner violence, but the city and state must recommit, and allocate more resources to protect our vulnerable neighbors. 

Malliotakis Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Compensate 9/11 Widows & Children

U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis

Congressmembers Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island, Brooklyn), Kathleen Rice (D-Long Island) and Chris Smith (R-NJ) yesterday introduced bipartisan legislation that would appropriate funds to the United States Victims of State-Sponsored Terrorism Fund (USVSST) to equally compensate widows and dependent children of individuals killed in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

The USVSST was established in 2015 to compensate people injured in acts of international state-sponsored terrorism. Between 2017 and 2020, $3.3 billion in payments were made through the fund, however, certain 9/11 spouses, and dependents only became eligible for the fund in 2019 and were left out of the fund’s first two payments. The group initially excluded has received less than .01 percent of their allocated payments, while other groups in the USVSST have received millions of dollars. Previous payouts have been funded through assets seized from state-sponsored terrorism.

“This year, we will commemorate the 21st anniversary of September 11, 2001,” Malliotakis said. “We made a promise never to forget those who lost their lives on that fateful day and this must also extend to the widows, widowers, and children they left behind. I’m proud to join a bipartisan group of colleagues in introducing legislation to correct a solemn wrong and ensure widows and children of 9/11 are not forgotten and are compensated equitably by the USVSST by directly allocating this funding as a catch-up payment for which some were previously excluded. No more political theater, it’s far past time to get this done.”

In 2020, Congress passed legislation requiring the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to estimate the amount of “catch-up” payments for newly eligible groups to align with payments that other 9/11 family members had previously received. In direct response to the GAO’s study, Malliotakis’ legislation would directly appropriate these catch-up payments to the roughly 5,364 victims, spouses, or dependents that were wrongfully excluded from the initial payments made by the fund. 

AG James Urges U.S. DOT to Address Widespread Airline Cancellations and Delays

Attorney General Letitia James

New York Attorney General Letitia James yesterday urged the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to take action to address widespread airline cancellations and delays, which have disrupted travel plans for millions of consumers nationwide. 

During the first half of 2022, 2.8 percent of flights were canceled, a 33 percent increase from the same time in 2019. New York City area airports have had the highest summer cancelation rates in the country, with Newark Liberty International ranking first in cancellations, LaGuardia ranking second, and JFK International ranking ninth. 

Airlines appear to be advertising and booking flights they do not have the personnel to operate, which has caused delays and forced consumers to incur additional travel costs. In a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, James calls on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to implement more stringent measures to keep airlines in line and remedy any harm to consumers.

“Airlines knowingly advertising and booking flights they do not have the adequate staff to operate are flying in the face of the law,” said James. “Travelers are forced to miss important events, pay more, or change their entire travel plan because airlines are failing at their most basic function. The skyrocketing number of flight cancellations and delays in airports across the country is unacceptable and travelers have endured too much confusion and frustration. I urge the U.S. Department of Transportation to increase its oversight and regulation of airlines that are skirting the rules and causing disruptions for travelers.”