I On Politics – Western Queens Gazette

I On Politics – Western Queens Gazette

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

  
COURT ORDERS TRUMPS TO COMPLY WITH SUBPOENAS: New York Attorney General Letitia James on February 17 won a major victory in her office’s ongoing civil investigation into Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization’s financial dealings. After hearing arguments earlier that day, the Honorable Arthur Engoron of the New York County State Supreme Court ruled that Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., and Ivanka Trump must all appear for sworn testimony, and Donald J. Trump must produce additional documents in compliance with subpoenas from the Office of the Attorney General. The judge ordered Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., and Ivanka Trump to appear for testimony within 21 days, and ordered Donald J. Trump to produce additional documentation within 14 days.
“Today, justice prevailed,” said Attorney General James. “Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., and Ivanka Trump have been ordered by the court to comply with our lawful investigation into Mr. Trump and the Trump Organization’s financial dealings. No one will be permitted to stand in the way of the pursuit of justice, no matter how powerful they are. No one is above the law.”
MALONEY ON US RESPONSE TO RUSSIAN AGGRESSION: Below is Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney’s opening statement, as prepared for delivery, at the Feb. 16 Subcommittee on National Security’s hearing entitled Defending U.S. Allies and Interests Against Russian Aggression in Eastern Europe:
“Thank you, Chairman Lynch. The fact that you are holding today’s hearing—with Russian forces ready to invade Ukraine at any moment—reflects the seriousness with which you take your oversight responsibilities as Chairman of the National Security Subcommittee. So I’d like to thank you, as always, for your leadership.
“Vladimir Putin is at it again. After his illegal occupation and annexation of Crimea in 2014, and his backing of separatist rebels in the Donbas region, he now appears to have turned his sights toward the rest of Ukraine. Over and over again, Vladimir Putin has shown that he has little, if any, regard for international law. He has poisoned and imprisoned political dissidents and conducted disinformation campaigns to interfere in democratic elections in other countries. He has enabled President Bashar al-Assad and Iranian-backed militias in the Middle East, which has contributed to humanitarian suffering on a massive scale. Now he is threatening to invade Ukraine unless the United States and NATO concede to his outrageous demands to deny the people of Ukraine their own political autonomy, security, and right to self-determination.
“As Speaker Pelosi rightly argued over the weekend ‘an assault on Ukraine is an assault on democracy.’ Fortunately, President Biden is not afraid to stand up for democracy. Unlike the former President, who kowtowed to dictators like Putin and Kim Jong Un, President Biden has united our allies to send a strong and unambiguous message to Putin that we will impose swift and severe consequences on Russia if he uses military force against Ukraine.
“But military power is not the only tool in Putin’s toolkit. He will also likely continue to use other tools, including cyber operations, to try to destabilize and influence his enemies. Those threats extend not only to Ukraine, but also to the United States. I was glad to see that the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, or CISA, over the weekend released a ‘Shields Up’ alert that encourages all U.S. organizations to ‘adopt a heightened posture when it comes to cybersecurity and protecting their most critical assets.’
“I am proud that the Oversight Committee has played an important role in enhancing and strengthening our nation’s cybersecurity, and I look forward to continuing our work with the Biden Administration to improve our nation’s cyber-defenses—especially in response to Russia’s belligerent activity in Ukraine and around the world.
“I’d like to conclude by thanking our expert panel of witnesses for testifying before us today, and I want to again thank you, Chairman Lynch, for holding this critical and timely hearing.”
MAYOR RELEASES PRELIMINARY BUDGET FOR FY 2023: New York City Mayor Eric Adams presented on Feb. 16 New York City’s $98.5 billion Preliminary Budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023. Mayor Adams’ first budget reduces the FY23 budget by $2.3 billion and — by prioritizing public safety, implementing a successful Program to Eliminate the Gap (PEG), exercising caution in response to mixed economic signals, and reducing budgeted city headcount — serves as the foundation for his commitment to “Get Stuff Done” for New Yorkers. This budget also makes historic investments to support public safety, young New Yorkers, childcare, and working families.
“After two years of struggle, we are on the brink of a recovery that offers us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make real change on a grand scale,” said Mayor Adams. “I made a commitment to New Yorkers to spend taxpayer dollars more wisely, while making the upstream investments necessary to ensure a robust recovery — and this administration’s first Preliminary Budget achieves exactly that. We are cutting spending, making government run more efficiently, investing in public safety, and providing much-needed help to working families across our city. The steps we are taking together will make New York a safer, more just, and more prosperous city for all.”
New spending of $536 million in FY22 and $926 million in FY23 in this budget is wholly offset by nearly $2 billion achieved within the PEG. FY22 tax revenues reflect a $1.6 billion increase over the November Plan, driven by better-than-expected personal and business income taxes, sales taxes, and transaction taxes. Tax revenue growth of $726 million in FY23 over the November Plan is due to higher-than-expected property tax values.
Simultaneously increasing public safety and justice:
This budget advances Mayor Adams’ Blueprint to End Gun Violence to reduce crime across the five boroughs. Until increasing levels of gun violence ends, New York will not be the best city in the world to raise a family, open a business, or visit. This will delay the city’s recovery and, therefore, New Yorkers’ prosperity.
The Adams administration is using the New York Police Department’s existing resources more efficiently to redeploy officers to subway platforms and onto trains and create Neighborhood Safety Teams, anti-gun squads focused on reducing gun violence around the city.
To support the Blueprint to End Gun Violence and give young New Yorkers a platform for success, the administration has added 30,000 Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) slots — increasing summer job opportunities to 100,000. This increase not only marks the first time the program will be funded annually, but also represents the largest number of jobs made available by SYEP in the program’s 60-year history.
The Adams administration has also baselined funding for Fair Futures, which provides young New Yorkers who are aging out of foster care with mentoring, tutoring, and more.
Closing the FY23 $2.9 billion budget gap:
As part of the PEG, the Adams administration reduced the budgeted city headcount by 3,200 in FY22 and 7,000 in FY23 by eliminating vacancies and without laying off a single employee.
The Mayor vowed going forward, achieving savings and efficiency will be a hallmark of his administration budgets.
In support of fiscal discipline and planning for the future, Mayor Adams also increased budget reserves to a total of $6.1 billion — more than $1 billion more than the FY22 level, and the highest level achieved in city history. There is now $1 billion in the General Reserve, $1 billion in the Rainy Day Fund, $3.8 billion in the Retiree Health Benefits Trust, and $250 million in the Capital Stabilization Fund. And to accurately reflect the city’s budget condition, the administration has removed $500 million in unidentified labor savings from the FY23 budget and future plan years.
FREE AT-HOME COVID-19 TEST KITS AT EIGHT ADDITIONAL LOCATIONS: Free at-home COVID-19 test kits are now available for pick up at select library locations during regular hours of service, until an hour before closing. Limit of two (2) kits per person, while supplies last.
The following eight library locations that started distributing test kits on Tuesday, February 22: Bayside, Glen Oaks, Glendale, Jackson Heights, Lefferts, Rochdale Village, South Ozone Park, Steinway.
The ten locations that were already providing test kits are: Arverne, Central Library, East Elmhurst, Far Rockaway, Kew Gardens Hills, Long Island City, McGoldrick, Peninsula, Rego Park, Richmond Hill.
These kits are made available through a partnership with NYC’s Test and Trace Corps.
MALONEY SPEAKS OUT FOR ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE: At the Feb. 15 Natural Resources hearing titled “Full Committee Legislative Hearing on Environmental Justice,” Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, emphasized the importance of environmental justice legislation for frontline communities in New York City and across the country.
Last month, Congresswoman Maloney introduced H.R.6548, the Justice in Power Plant Permitting Act. This bill advances an equitable transition to a clean energy economy by preventing the permitting of major sources of pollution that cause harm to communities, like fossil fuel-fired power plants such as Ravenswood Generating Station. The legislation would also prohibit other fossil fuel-fired sources within one mile of a major source if the combined effects of the area’s air polluters would cause harm to the health and well-being of local communities. To replace dirty and harmful energy generation, the bill includes a Just Energy Transition Fund for clean energy projects that support workers and residents of environmental justice communities. Finally, the bill ensures the federal government is a partner in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and hazardous air pollutants by requiring 100% renewable, air pollution-free energy use by 2030.
During her questioning, Congresswoman Maloney stated, “Communities like mine need the Environmental Justice for All Act to become law. My constituents in Western Queens live in an area that is called asthma alley. Across the street from Queensbridge Houses, the largest public housing development in the country, is the Ravenswood Generating Station, the dirtiest fossil fuel plant in the state. If you can believe it, there are three more peakers that burn fossil fuels on the Ravenswood site, two more peakers just two blocks away and ten within a mile, twenty-four just in that neighborhood, and ninety-one across the city. That is too many, and that’s why we have environmental health challenges and problems. Millions of people in New York live within a mile of these plants, and if you live near one, you probably live near many. Enough is enough. We need to stop polluting and harming frontline communities. We need to pass [the] Environmental Justice for All Act. […] My bill, H.R. 6548, builds on EJ for All by inserting the cumulative impacts model into the permitting of fossil fuel-fired power plants and other sources of air pollution, and prohibiting these sources if they cause harm.”
She then discussed implementing a national environmental justice framework, asking Dr. Nicky Sheats, Director of the Center for the Urban Environment at the John S. Watson Institute for Urban Policy and Research at Kean University, “What is your message to Members of Congress who may be unfamiliar with this concept or unsure whether to support cumulative impacts bills like Chairman Grijalva’s and Congressman McEachin’s and mine?”
Dr. Sheats answered, “I think that you pretty much said it but let me add that environmental justice communities, low-income communities, communities of color, have been working towards this for years, saying that this gap in our laws has to be plugged, there has to be some way to take into account the total amount of pollution in a neighborhood. It is just so unfair that these multiple sources keep going into the same neighborhoods. And the time is now and we are glad so many people are at least starting to listen and taking this seriously. And we really thank you and your colleagues in Congress for paying attention to this issue.”
ADDABBO TO HOST FREE TAX FILING WEBINAR: As residents prepare to file their taxes, State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. is partnering with the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) to bring a free virtual webinar for a discussion about free tax prep for his constituents.
On Wednesday, March 9, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., representatives from DCWP will be live on the webinar to provide a Free Tax Prep presentation for all who register. During the presentation, DCWP will discuss free filing options for New Yorkers earning $50,000 or less, as well as NYC Financial Empowerment Centers, which offer free one-on-one professional financial counseling for all New Yorkers. To join this free webinar, visit tinyurl.com/FTP-webinar, or to view a livestream of the webinar, visit facebook.com/nycdca.
DCWP’s City-funded NYC Free Tax Prep program offers multiple options to file for free, including in-person, drop-off, virtual and online services. Families with dependents who earned $72,000 or less in 2020 and individuals who earned $50,000 or less can use NYC Free Tax Prep. Filers should check the eligibility requirements and choose the filing option that is best for them. Anyone who lives or works in New York City can use NYC Free Tax Prep.
“Tax season is here and the deadline to file your taxes is right around the corner,” Addabbo said. “That is why I am sponsoring this Free Tax Preparation and Financial Counseling webinar in conjunction with DCWP. Your taxes may be different from what you’re used to in 2021, especially if you were impacted by the COVID pandemic by losing a job or having received unemployment benefits. If you qualify, you can have your taxes done for free through the NYC Free Tax Prep program.”
The NYC Free Tax Prep services include:
In-Person Tax Prep: sit down with a volunteer preparer. At in-person tax prep sites, knowledgeable IRS certified Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)/Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) volunteer preparers help filers complete an accurate tax return. Nearly 50 sites across the city are currently open and more will be opening in the coming weeks.
Drop-off Service: drop off your documents and pick up your completed return later. With drop-off service, filers can drop off their tax documents and pick up the completed return later.
Virtual Tax Prep: like in-person free filing but online. Virtual Tax Prep is an online service where an IRS certified VITA/TCE volunteer preparer will video conference with filers to help prepare their tax return using a secure digital system. Filers can submit photos or scans of tax documents to the preparer, confirm their identity, and complete their return by video call with a preparer. Filers will need access to a computer, tablet, or smartphone; a stable internet connection; and the ability to download secure video conference software.
Assisted Self-Preparation: free online tax prep on your own or with help. Assisted Self-Preparation allows filers to complete their tax return online on their own and an IRS certified VITA/TCE volunteer preparer will be available by phone or email to answer questions. Filers will need access to a computer, tablet, or smartphone; a stable internet connection; an email address, and their 2020 adjusted gross income (AGI) or self-select PIN.
In addition to the Free Tax Prep services, attendees of the webinar will also learn about several tax credits and who can qualify for them. Claiming even one of these tax credits this tax season could equal thousands of dollars.
Child Tax Credit (CTC): Parents and caregivers with children younger than 18 can get up to $3,000 or $3,600 per child depending on the child’s age. Filers do not need to have had income to claim the credit. Families who got advance payments in 2021, must file in 2022 to get the rest of their money. This includes families who signed up online using the IRS Non-filer Portal or GetCTC.org. Only the children being claimed need to have Social Security Numbers (SSN); the filer does not need a SSN and can file using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): EITC is available to working families and individuals with low and moderate incomes. Now filers who are as 19 and older with or without children can claim up to $6,728 depending on the number of qualifying children.
Child and Dependent Care Credit (CDCC): Working families who pay for childcare for children under 13 or the care of dependent adults can get back up to $4,000 in care expenses for one qualifying person and up to $8,000 for two or more people.
For more information on this event, call Addabbo’s office at 718-738-1111. For additional information about NYC Free Tax Prep, visit nyc.gov/taxprep or call 311 and ask for tax preparation assistance; for NYC Financial Empowerment Centers visit nyc.gov/TalkMoney or call 311 to schedule an appointment. Services are available in English, Spanish, Arabic, Aremenian, Bengali, Chinese, French, Haitian-Creole, Hebrew, Korean, Russian, Urdu and others to come.
ADAMS’ SUBWAY SAFETY PLAN: New York City Mayor Eric Adams released the Subway Safety Plan on Feb. 18, which lays out how his administration will begin addressing public safety concerns and supporting people experiencing homelessness and serious mental illness on New York City’s subways. The plan includes comprehensive investments in short- and medium-term solutions, including expanded outreach teams with New York Police Department (NYPD) officers and clinicians, additional housing and mental health resources, and outlines long-term systems improvements through changes to state and federal laws to connect more New Yorkers to the care they need. A key component of the plan will also direct NYPD personnel to assist in enforcing certain subway rules against sleeping across multiple seats, exhibiting aggressive behavior to passengers, or creating an unsanitary environment, for example.
“It is cruel and inhumane to allow unhoused people to live on the subway, and unfair to paying passengers and transit workers who deserve a clean, orderly, and safe environment,” said Mayor Adams. “The days of turning a blind eye to this growing problem are over, and I look forward to collaborating with the state, the federal government, TWU, advocates, and law enforcement to solve this challenge. It will take time, but our work starts now.”
“Governor Hochul and Mayor Adams focused from the start on subway safety, and it’s a game-changer,” said Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) Chair and CEO Janno Lieber. “Now, with additional strategies on how to enforce system rules and provide services to vulnerable New Yorkers, we are standing up for millions of riders who want to see change. Together with a CompStat-style metrics-based approach to tracking progress, we can fix these conditions and be in a position to welcome back more and more New Yorkers to a safe subway system.”
The plan lays out how the Adams administration, in partnership with the MTA and other state entities, will confront these concurrent challenges on our subways. Investments in people will provide immediate support and protection to New Yorkers, while investments in places like drop-in-centers, safe havens, stabilization beds, and Street Homeless Outreach Wellness vans, as well as policy changes at local, state, and federal levels will provide medium- and long-term solutions. These include:
, Deploying up to 30 Joint Response Teams that bring together DHS, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, NYPD, and community-based providers in high-need locations across our city.
, Training NYPD officers in our subway system to enforce the MTA and New York City Transit Authority’s rules of conduct in a fair and transparent way.
, Expanding Behavioral Health Emergency Assistance Response Division “B-HEARD” teams to six new precincts, more than doubling the precincts covered to 11. These teams will expand on the already-successful pilot of answering non-violent 911 mental health calls with mental health professionals.
, Incorporating medical services into DHS sites serving individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness. Expanded DHS Safe Havens and stabilization bed programs will offer on-site physical and behavioral health care to immediately address clients’ needs.
, Immediately improving coordination across government with weekly “Enhanced Outreach Taskforce” meetings that bring together senior leaders from 13 city and state agencies to address issues quickly.
, Creating new Drop-in-Centers to provide an immediate pathway for individuals to come indoors, and exploring opportunities to site Drop-in-Centers close to key subway stations to directly transition individuals from trains and platforms to safe spaces.
, Streamlining the placement process into supportive housing and reducing the amount of paperwork it takes to prove eligibility.
, Calling on state government to expand psychiatric bed resources and amending Kendra’s Law to improve mental health care delivery for New Yorkers on Assisted Outpatient Treatment.
, Requiring — instead of requesting — everyone to leave the train and the station at the end of the line.
HOCHUL’S MAJOR INVESTMENTS IN PSYCHIATRIC SUPPORT: Governor Kathy Hochul, at an event with New York City Mayor Eric Adams, announced major investments to help improve access to acute mental health care and hospital psychiatric beds across New York State. The initiatives are part of a plan to provide the necessary support and services for people with serious mental illness experiencing homelessness, as well as others in crisis. The investments include $27.5 million annually to increase funding for inpatient psychiatric beds; $9 million annually to recruit psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners; and $12.5 million annually for 500 additional supportive housing beds to house people experiencing homelessness in their communities.
“For too long our mental healthcare system suffered from disinvestment, and the pandemic has only made things harder for New Yorkers with serious mental illness who are experiencing homelessness,” Governor Hochul said. “I am proud to stand with Mayor Adams and share our efforts to boost mental health treatment services for those who lack stable housing, and bring more psychiatric beds online. We must work together to keep our subways – the lifeblood of New York City – safe for all riders, and to get help and services to those in need.”
Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, “Governor Hochul’s proposed budget and the initiatives she is implementing are truly historic and will greatly strengthen the mental health care safety net in New York. The actions she is announcing today, and the collaborative approach she is taking with Mayor Adams, will help provide services quickly and effectively to people experiencing a mental health crisis.”
One cause of the shortage of psychiatric beds in New York City and across the state is lower Medicaid reimbursement for inpatient psychiatric care compared to medical/surgical beds. The $27.5 million investment would increase the current Medicaid for psychiatric beds by 20% and would help bring beds back online for psychiatric use, including more than 600 in New York City.
A second challenge with reestablishing psychiatric beds is the nationwide shortage of psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners. Governor Hochul is committing $9 million annually to establish a loan forgiveness program to recruit these mental health practitioners into the community-based mental health workforce.
The investment of $12.5 million annually for 500 additional supportive housing beds will help to more quickly transition those in crisis from the streets, subways and shelters to stable housing. These units will give the State the additional resources it will need as the Governor’s Safe Options Support teams come online in the Spring. These additional units will complement the 10,000 units of supportive housing announced in the Governor’s $25 billion housing plan.
These investments will build on the Governor’s $10 billion plan to improve the health care system and proposed budget, which includes a historic $577 million (17.2%) increase for critically important community mental health programs and services. These budget initiatives include:
, $21 million investment to develop 20 new SOS teams comprised of mental health specialists to conduct direct one-on-one outreach with New Yorkers experiencing homelessness
, $25 billion housing plan with a commitment to create and preserve 10,000 units of supportive housing over the next five years to prevent homelessness
, workforce investments through a historic 5.4% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for community mental health providers and retention bonuses up to $3,000
, $35 million investment for FY 2023 that grows to $60 million in FY 2024 to prepare New York for the nationwide launch of 9-8-8, the suicide prevention and behavioral health crisis hotline system, by providing for the expansion of call center capacity.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams said, “I’m grateful to Governor Hochul for her partnership as we lead with compassion, empathy, and support together. These investments in mental health will go towards those who need it most and help bring our unhoused New Yorkers home.”
HOCHUL ANNOUNCES $41M FOR CLEAN WATER SYSTEMS: Governor Kathy Hochul has announced the Environmental Facilities Corporation Board of Directors approved $41 million in funding that includes low-cost loans and previously awarded grants, enabling the recipients to access these loan and grant funds and move their water and sewer infrastructure projects forward.
The Board also approved an $879 million leveraged bond financing to provide capital for various wastewater and drinking water projects for the New York City Municipal Water Finance Authority (NYCMWFA) and to refund certain prior bonds. Refunding bond sales deliver additional savings for EFC’s municipal partners by refinancing the original bonds that funded their projects at an even lower interest rate. The transaction is estimated to save $18 million for New York City ratepayers over the next 10 years.
“The State of New York is steadfast in our commitment to providing communities with the resources needed to make upgrades to water and sewer systems,” Governor Hochul said. “These critical projects will help protect the health and safety of residents, the environment, and quality of life as we work together to assist residents in every corner of the state with access to safe, clean water and reliable sewer services.”
The Board’s approval includes financing through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (“CWSRF”) and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (“DWSRF”) and grants pursuant to the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act (WIIA). Visit EFC’s website to learn more about water infrastructure funding opportunities.
Municipal participation in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Watersheds Needs Survey (CWNS) starting in March is critical as it impacts how much federal CWSRF funding will be allocated to New York State to fund future clean water infrastructure projects. Municipalities will be asked to submit to EFC documentation of their community’s wastewater infrastructure needs for submittal to EPA.
Clean Water Project Funding Approved for NYC:
, New York City Municipal Water Finance Authority – $284,783,326 in long-term leveraged financing to design and construct various combined sewer overflow, wastewater collection system, and treatment plant improvement projects.
Drinking Water Project Funding Approved for NYC:
, New York City Municipal Water Finance Authority – $150,000,000 in long-term leveraged financing for the design and construction of the Croton Water Filtration Plant and associated facilities.
Governor Hochul’s FY 2023 Executive Budget proposes more than half a billion dollars in direct investment into clean water initiatives, including:
, $500 million in clean water infrastructure funding, bringing the State’s total clean water investment to $4.5 billion since 2017
, $400 million — a record level of funding for the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) — to support critical projects that work to mitigate the effects of climate change, improve agricultural resources, protect water sources, advance conservation efforts, and provide recreational opportunities.
, $4 billion for the landmark Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act. If approved by voters this fall, this historic initiative will provide the support New York State needs to restore critical environmental habitats; reduce flood risks; conserve additional lands and open spaces; protect and improve our water resources; and invest in climate change mitigation projects that will reduce pollution and lower carbon emissions.
QUEENS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE LAUNCHES QUEENS IS GREEN: The Queens Chamber of Commerce, Queens’ oldest and largest business association, announced on Feb. 15 the launch of the “Queens is Green Initiative”. The initiative will feature industry leaders including Reliable Power Alternatives Corp. (RPAC), SUNation Solar Systems, Green Energy Technology (GET), Con Edison, and National Grid.
This new energy partnership will help Queens Chamber members conserve energy and save money. Under the initiative, RPAC will provide Queens Chamber members with expert advice on sustainability, energy procurement, Local Laws 84, 87, 97, 133, and available incentives around efficiencies.
As part of the Queens is Green Initiative, RPAC has created a low-cost carbon free electric pool for Queens Chamber members. The pool is a first of its kind that will aggregate the membership’s electric load in order to purchase lower cost energy with no long-term commitments. Members have the ability to opt-out with no penalties if they choose.
“In New York City, we like to lead the way when it comes to innovative solutions to combat the reality of climate change,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “Queens is setting the bar high! This new initiative will ensure residents have clean communities to live in and are saving money at the same time. This is proof that sustainable policies are good for New Yorkers, good for the economy, and good for our planet.”
“Queens knows all too well the drastic impacts climate change has had on our borough and the importance of investing in the use of clean, renewable energy. By connecting our small businesses with green energy industry leaders, this initiative will help ensure Queens remains a leader in combating climate change while significantly cutting energy costs for our local entrepreneurs still recovering financially from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “We’re grateful to the Queens Chamber of Commerce and all our clean energy partners for bringing this critical initiative in support of our businesses and our borough to fruition.”
“The Queens Chamber of Commerce is proud to convene this group of Chamber members and other industry leaders in an effort to help businesses not only save their hard earned dollars, but also make Queens the greenest county in the largest city in America,” said Thomas J. Grech, President and CEO of the Queens Chamber of Commerce. “By bringing together Chamber members Reliable Power Alternatives Co., SUNation Solar Systems, Green Energy Technology, National Grid and Con Edison, we will help our businesses become more energy efficient, and ensure Queens is leading the way in the fight against climate change.”
In addition to providing this valuable service that helps Chamber members conserve energy and save money, the Queens is Green initiative will also play a lead role in organizing a substantive team to respond to the request for public comment on the Climate Action Council Draft Scoping Plan to ensure Queens’ interests are represented in the final plan. The 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act represents one of the most ambitious climate laws in the world. The law created the Climate Action Council, which is tasked with developing a draft scoping plan that serves as an initial framework for how New York State will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve net-zero emissions, increase renewable energy usage, and ensure climate justice. The 120 public comment period began on January 1.
PRESS RELEASE: Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas, Assembly Colleagues, and Transit and Environmental Advocates Urge Governor Hochul to Flip Gas Tax To Increase MTA Funding, Freeze Fares, and Improve Service.
‘FLIP GAS TAX TO INCREASE MTA FUNDING’: As a New York state budget hearing on transit was underway, Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas, along with New York City-based colleagues Assemblymembers Burgos, Epstein, Gallagher, and Septimo, and New York City’s leading progressive transit and environmental organizations, called on Governor Hochul to increase MTA funding and freeze public transit fares in the Executive Budget.
During the Budget Hearing on Transportation, Assemblymember González-Rojas called on the Governor to add upwards of $500 million annually to the MTA coffers by flipping the gas tax so that the MTA could receive two-thirds of the revenue, and roads and highways could receive the other third. The Assemblymembers stated that this could fund more expedient subway and bus service and implement a fare freeze for up to five years. When she questioned MTA Chair Janno Lieber about the MTA’s stance on this proposal he did not voice opposition. Riders Alliance, Transportation Alternatives, StreetsPAC, Straphangers Campaign, New York League of Conservation Voters, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Friends of the BQX, New York Communities for Change, NYC-DSA Ecosocialists, and Sunrise NYC voiced their support for the aforementioned changes to the budget in their own letter to the Governor this morning, and the Assemblymember echos their urgent call.
With an influx of federal infrastructure funding, New York State has an opportunity to become a leader in equitable public transportation policy that centers environmental justice. For too many residents of the 34th Assembly District, and residents of lower-income neighborhoods in Queens and the Bronx, the city’s buses and subways are still inaccessible. González-Rojas is pleased to work alongside her Queens and Bronx colleagues, Assemblymembers Burgos, Epstein, Gallagher, and Septimo, to request these necessary changes to the Executive Budget.
“With an influx of federal infrastructure funding, New York State has an opportunity to become a leader in equitable public transportation policy that centers environmental justice. For too many residents of the 34th Assembly District, and residents of lower-income neighborhoods across the city, the subways and buses are still inaccessible. By reconfiguring the gas tax revenue, the MTA could have sufficient funding to freeze fare hikes at a time when New Yorkers are cash strapped and improve service so that Black and Brown New Yorkers can get to work more expediently. This investment is crucial to the city’s recovery. I’m pleased to work alongside my colleagues, Assemblymembers Burgos, Epstein, Gallagher, and Septimo, and advocacy groups to request these necessary changes to the Executive Budget and hope to work with the Governor to get it done,” said Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas.
A LEG UP FOR LOW-INCOME COMMUNITIES: At the Financial Services Committee hearing on Feb. 16 titled An Unprecedented Investment for Historic Results: How Federal Support for MDIs and CDFIs Have Launched a New Era for Disadvantaged Communities, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), senior member of the committee, spoke about the vital importance of community development financial institutions (CDFIs) and minority depository institutions (MDIs) on serving low- and moderate-income communities and communities of color. She also underscored the significance of these institutions in ensuring a more equitable recovery long-term.
During the hearing, Rep. Maloney stated, “I’ve been an advocate and a fan of the work of CDFIs and MDIs. These institutions are able to effectively serve low- and moderate-income communities and communities of color at higher rates than their financial institution counterparts. Each year on a bipartisan basis, I lead approximately 100 of our colleagues in requesting additional support for the CDFI Fund’s annual appropriations, and this past year we were successful in securing an increase of $60 million over the previous fiscal year in the House passed bill. The CDFI Fund provides resources for a range of innovative and effective programs through this appropriation that enable CDFIs to address the needs of their targeted markets. This committee knows MDIs and CDFIs are an integral part of ensuring equitable access to financial services. That’s why we fought to ensure dedicated funds and boosted support for them in the various COVID recovery packages.”
She then asked William J. Bynum, CEO of HOPE (Hope Credit Union/Hope Enterprise Corporation/Hope Policy Institute), “Can you speak to the unique role CDFIs were able to play in our COVID response?”
Mr. Bynum replied, “CDFIs played an outsized role in driving resources into the most economically distressed communities, as you know. With the Paycheck Protection Program, initially CDFIs were excluded from that program. When Congress and administration opened it up, we were able to drive funds to mom-and-pop businesses that are so vital to creating jobs for individuals who may not have the high level of skills or education, but are vital to stabilizing communities and supporting families. So I mentioned in my testimony, the average loan size of CDFIs that provide Paycheck Protection loans was, for us, roughly $26,000 compared to $40,000 for the program overall. So driving it to those mom-and-pop businesses that are so vital. Initially sole proprietors were not eligible for the program. We were able to broaden that and make that possible, which was critical. In addition, with the Rapid Response Program that was a part of the appropriations that you passed, the program was able to reach loan funds which were not a part of the ECIP program, but which reached small institutions, small loan funds that are critical in rural, persistent poverty areas and inner cities where there are not larger CDFIs and there are not banks. We saw how with ECIP we are going to be able to more than double our lending to these programs. Some of the smallest businesses, nonprofits that provide critical support services, were not able to get in with very many banks through the PPP program, and CDFIs opened doors to those institutions. So filling in the gaps, that’s what CDFIs do well, particularly in rural, persistent-poverty communities and communities of color and for women businesses and families.”
Rep. Maloney continued, “Do you believe boosting annual funding for the CDFIs would help ensure a more equitable recovery long-term?
Mr. Bynum answered, “Absolutely. It is very clear that in a normal year, in a normal environment, the programs are oversubscribed. The need is even greater now, even though some believe the pandemic is over. In the most hard-hit communities that is certainly not the case. Families are still struggling, businesses are still struggling to get open and they need investment that unfortunately, you know, in our region, with the SBA program, banks in Arkansas make 1.2% of their loans go to Black residents, in a state where the business population is 9% Black, the overall population is 14% Black. Banks are the primary users and drivers of those SBA programs. And so relying on banks, unfortunately, has not gotten the job done. It is critical that CDFIs have the resources to step into the breach and fill the gaps.”
JAMES FINDS LEAD IN BABY FOOD: New York Attorney General Letitia James issued a letter demanding that the baby food company HolleUSA end its false or misleading claims about its products. Specifically, Attorney General James is calling for JSG Babyfood LLC and JSG Organics LLC — which does business as HolleUSA — to stop advertising their baby foods as being “lead free” and as having no detectable traces of heavy metals. Laboratory testing ordered by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) revealed that several HolleUSA brand baby food products available to New York residents contained detectable levels of lead, cadmium, and arsenic.
“New York parents should never have to second guess the safety of the products meant for their children,” said Attorney General James. “My office found that HolleUSA is misleading or lying to parents when it advertises its baby food as free from lead and having no detectable heavy metals. These false or misleading claims prey upon parents’ concerns about the continuing problem of toxic heavy metals in their children’s food, and they must end. We will continue to hold accountable any company that misrepresents its products to New York consumers.”
In November 2021, OAG ordered three varieties of Holle brand baby food pouches (“Carrot Cat” Fruit & Veggie Puree, “Zebra Beet” Fruit Puree & Veggie Juice,” and “Veggie Bunny” Veggie Puree) marketed to New York and U.S. consumers through HolleUSA’s website (Holleusa.com) and Amazon (Amazon.com). Eighteen pouches were tested for heavy metals, arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury by an accredited and nationally-recognized lab. The testing detected one or more of the heavy metals in all 18 of the sampled pouches. Based on these findings, Attorney General James orders HolleUSA to promptly remove all false and misleading claims relating to its products being free of heavy metals from the company’s website and virtual store fronts on online retailers such as Amazon.
Engaging in repeated or persistent fraud or illegality, deceptive business practices, and false or misleading advertising violates New York Executive Law and General Business Law. Attorney General James’ letter notes that her office reserves the right to pursue any appropriate remedy to HolleUSA’s false or misleading advertising of its products.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) presently has not established any lead, arsenic or cadmium limits for virtually any category of baby food products (including pureed baby food), though FDA’s Closer to Zero plan proposes future changes. The levels at which OAG’s testing of the HolleUSA pouches detected lead, arsenic, and cadmium do not exceed standards in place in the European Union, where the brand is based.
Attorney General James is a national leader in advocating for the federal government to accelerate actions to remove heavy metals from infant and toddler foods. Within days of a February 2021 congressional report finding “dangerous levels” of toxic heavy metals in commercial baby foods, Attorney General James wrote to the Acting Director of the FDA urging swift action in setting standards for these metals in all baby foods, and requiring baby food manufacturers to test their finished products for toxic metals. After FDA announced a plan that deferred setting any final limits on lead and other heavy metals for years without requiring any stopgap or interim actions, Attorney General James led a coalition of 23 state Attorneys General in an October 2021 petition urging FDA to take several specific interim actions to accelerate protections for young children. The multistate petition is currently pending before FDA. Attorney General James is also continuing her investigation into four of the largest U.S. baby food brands — Gerber, Beech-Nut, Earth’s Best Organic (Hain), and HappyBABY (Nurture) — for inorganic arsenic levels in their infant rice cereal products and their marketing of these products in New York.
MALONEY: RESTORE WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE MONUMENT INSCRIPTION: Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) introduced on February 15 a resolution to restore the original inscription that appeared on the ‘Portrait Monument,’ the statue commemorating women’s suffrage in the United States Capitol Rotunda, when it was first unveiled on February 15, 1921.
“One hundred and one years ago today, the Portrait Monument was unveiled in the Capitol Rotunda. Yet for more than 75 years, it sat in what was, in effect, a broom closet at the time,” said Rep. Maloney. “While we have made progress in bringing this important monument out of the dark, we must restore the monument’s compelling inscription to celebrate women’s accomplishments and inspire future generations of girls. Just like the suffrage movement and the women who led it, the inscription is part of our history and should be restored. It is past time to correct that historic wrong and again place an appropriate inscription on this monument which honors one of the most significant events in our nation’s history.”
The Portrait Monument, which is currently located in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, depicts three leaders of the women’s suffrage movement – Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. It also includes an uncarved marble block as a reminder that the work to gain women’s equality was not completed with the passage of the 19th amendment.
Unfortunately, recognizing the importance of this monument has not been easy. The Portrait Monument stood in the Crypt and was only moved to the U.S. Capitol Rotunda in 1997. Securing its more prominent location was a lengthy fight, and the move ultimately had to be funded by private donations because Congress would not appropriate funding at the time.
The statue’s inscription also sparked a fight. When the monument was first brought to the Capitol, it included an inscription painted on the base of the monument that read, in part: “Woman, first denied a soul, then called mindless, now arisen, declared herself an entity to be reckoned.” The inscription was removed due to objections calling it “blasphemous.” The resolution would direct the Joint Committee on the Library to add an inscription to the Portrait Monument based on the original inscription that was on the statue when it was presented to Congress.
BOOSTING CYBERSECURITY PREPARATIONS & READINESS:           Governor Kathy Hochul released the following statement on boosting cybersecurity preparations and readiness: “In light of current geopolitical uncertainty, earlier today (Feb. 20) I convened cabinet members from relevant areas to review our ongoing cybersecurity preparedness efforts and make sure that New Yorkers, our institutions, and our critical infrastructure are protected from cyber-facilitated disruptions. We are in regular touch with the White House and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to ensure coordination.
“The reality is that because New York State is a leader in the finance, healthcare, energy, and transportation sectors, our state is an attractive target for cyber criminals and foreign adversaries.
“My Administration has taken significant steps to prepare for what have become increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks, including my recent budget proposal to invest $62 million in our cybersecurity protections, which is more than double from last year. Cabinet leaders will continue reviewing their cyber-risk management readiness and communicate with relevant industry and government partners to ensure threat intelligence is being relayed as quickly as possible.
“It is my top priority to keep New Yorkers safe, and we will remain vigilant by continuing to monitor for threats and ramping up our cybersecurity shields as necessary.
“New Yorkers should also remember they are vulnerable to cyberattacks on their personal devices, and I encourage them to use best practices around passwords and multi-factor authentication, and to make sure that older loved ones are protected from scams.”
MALONEY: HOW WILL IRS SAFEGUARD BIOMETRIC DATA OF MILLIONS? Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, sent a letter to Charles Rettig, Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), requesting more information about the costs associated with the agency’s decision to cancel its contract with ID.me and the IRS’s plans to safeguard the biometric data of seven million American taxpayers who already submitted their information to the private company.
“I welcome your decision to reconsider the use of facial recognition technology, but I remain concerned about the ongoing impact on the millions of Americans who have already turned over their biometric data to a private company as well as the potential costs to American taxpayers given the agency’s about-face on this multimillion-dollar contract,” wrote Chairwoman Maloney.
Following reports that the IRS would soon begin requiring users to log in using ID.me to access their taxpayer data, the Committee requested and received a briefing from IRS senior officials on February 4, 2022.
At the briefing, the Committee learned that seven million Americans had already been directed by the IRS to sign up with ID.me. Under IRS’s stated records retention requirements, ID.me will possess biometric information on these individuals for seven years before the IRS can request for the information to be deleted. Although the IRS is now terminating the contract, those Americans’ highly personal information may continue to be held by a third party outside of the IRS’s direct control—increasing the potential for exposure to bad actors and other cybersecurity incidents. The company has asserted that individuals can request to have their records deleted starting on March 1, but it is unclear how the IRS plans to oversee this process or how it will be impacted by the agency’s record retention requirements.
At the briefing, IRS officials also confirmed widespread issues related to the use of nascent facial recognition technology. IRS officials stated that since June 2021, 13% of users had trouble authenticating through the ID.me service, which caused them to be referred to a customer service representative who would attempt to manually verify identity over video chat.
The Committee has long expressed concern regarding the oversight and regulation of facial recognition technology and its potential to discriminate against certain groups, such as people of color and women. On May 22, 2019, the Committee held its first in a series of hearings on the matter.
The Committee’s letter requests that IRS provide all documents relating to the contract with ID.me by February 23.
SENATE PASSES GIANARIS’ ROMANCE SCAM BILL: Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris announced the state Senate passed his legislation (S.166-B) requiring money transmitters to warn customers of potential scams ahead of money transfers. This bill passes shortly after the debut of The Tinder Swindler, a hit Netflix film about a con artist who allegedly steals over $10 million from victims running romance scams.
“This Valentine’s Day, New York has no love for those who seek to scam people out of their money” said Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris. “This bill hits a ripped from the headlines problem that’s costing people millions of dollars. New Yorkers deserve the strongest protections against predators and fraud. I am committed to keeping everyone safe from these scammers.”
According to the Federal Trade Commission, more than 56,000 Americans reported losing over $547 million in romance scams in 2021. Senator Gianaris’ legislation will require financial institutions to provide a warning to customers of the danger of consumer fraud when transferring funds.
SKILL TRAINING FOR CAREGIVERS OF CHILDREN WITH AUTISM: On National Caregivers Day (Feb. 18), U.S. Reps. Grace Meng (D-NY), Mike Doyle (D-PA), Co-Chair of the Congressional Autism Caucus, and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) introduced the bipartisan Autism Family Caregivers Act of 2022, a bipartisan bill that would provide access to caregiver skills training for family members who care for children with autism spectrum disorder or other developmental disabilities or delays.
“Every day, caregivers give endlessly of their own time and energy to help our loved ones live more complete lives. With families spending more time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, and as disruptions to in-person learning continue, access to tools and assistance for children with developmental disabilities is essential to support healthy development,” said Rep. Meng. “Our bill directly addresses the disparity in access to services for families of children with autism or other developmental disabilities or delays by providing an evidence-based way to support healthy development of young children with autism while empowering family caregivers with knowledge and skills. Giving caregivers a route to get the type of training and resources they need not only benefits the communities they serve but also the children’s lives they are in charge of enhancing.”
The Autism Family Caregivers Act would establish a five-year pilot program that would award grants to nonprofit organizations, community health centers, hospital systems, or a consortium, to provide evidence-based caregiver skills training to family caregivers of children with autism and other developmental disabilities or delays. Caregiver skills training teaches family caregivers how to use every day routines and home activities to improve the mental and physical well-being of children with autism and other developmental disabilities or delays, and their caregivers, including by addressing communication skills, daily living skills, social engagement, and behavior management.
The measure would also establish a Caregiver Skills Training National Technical Assistance and Evaluation Center to assist in the implementation of the caregiver skills training programs at the various sites, evaluate the effectiveness of such programs in improving the lives of children with autism and their family caregivers, and establish best practices.
MAYOR ANNOUNCES RECORD 100,000 SUMMER JOBS: New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced New York City will, this summer, support a record 100,000 summer job opportunities annually for young people ages 14-24, with 90,000 of the opportunities stemming from the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) and 10,000 opportunities coming from other city programs. The 90,000 opportunities through SYEP is the largest number of jobs ever made available in the program’s 60-year history. The record number of opportunities — an increase from the previous record of nearly 75,000 — is possible in part due to a $79 million investment that will be made in the mayor’s upcoming Fiscal Year 2023 Preliminary Budget. This expansion is a key part of an overall strategy to keep the city’s youth engaged and active over the summer months when crime spikes — and is a preventive action outlined in Mayor Adams’ Blueprint to End Gun Violence.
“Young people in this city should have the opportunity to work or learn this summer, and this historic investment will help secure a better future for tens of thousands while helping to make our city safer,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “We owe it to our children to give them every opportunity to thrive, and this expansion will do just that.”
The city’s SYEP program, which is the largest in the country, typically runs for six weeks in July and August. SYEP provides participants with paid opportunities to explore potential career interests and pathways, allowing participants to engage in learning experiences that help develop their professional, social, civic, and leadership skills. Research shows summer jobs save lives, cut crime, and strengthen communities. A 2021 study found that SYEP participation lowers participants’ chances of being arrested that summer by 17 percent and by 23 percent for felony arrests. Other research has found that SYEP youth are significantly less likely to be incarcerated in New York State more than five years after their participation in the program.
Beyond the public safety implications, summer jobs can offer life-changing experiences for participants who discover a passion, connect with a mentor, and gain the confidence that comes from successfully navigating the world of work. As the program has evolved over its six-decade history, the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) has put greater emphasis on youth development. City officials are also working with private sector partners, non-profit organizations, and others to help place participants.
Applications for New York City’s SYEP CareerReady and Special Initiatives tracks opened on February 14, and the general community-based application period for all youth opens on March 1. The CareerReady track is designed for students between the ages of 14 and 21 from select DOE schools, while the Special Initiatives track offers tailored opportunities for youth aged 14-24 who are:
, Residents of select New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments;
, Homeless or have run away;
, Justice- or court-involved;
, In foster care;
, Receiving preventative services through the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS);
, New York City Human Resources Administration participants receiving Cash Assistance via Business Link;
, Students from Access and alternative schools; or
, Have experienced gender-based violence.
“As a mother, former teacher, and fellow New Yorker, I applaud Mayor Adams for this historic investment into our city’s youth, so that they can have the opportunity to work or learn this summer,” said U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney. “As our city recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, I can think of no better way to help the future generation of our city than to give them the tools and experiences to grow and learn. This $79 million investment in our youth is welcomed and much needed.”
“Having a robust Summer Youth Employment Program is a great way to teach teens and young adults the importance of hard work and will hopefully help them take the first steps to finding a passion and creating a career for themselves,” said New York State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. “In addition to providing jobs, the Summer Youth Employment Program is vital in keeping kids off the streets during the summer and can go a long way in helping to curb potential criminal behavior in the city. I believe addressing the issue of crime starts with creating a foundation where people don’t feel the need to resort to a path of criminal activity to survive, which is why I wish this program continued success moving forward.”
“Creating opportunities for our youth to succeed is the best way to directly serve our communities and invest in our families. With this record amount of summer youth jobs available, we can start to make a real difference in our young neighbors’ lives and their families,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “Our young people in Queens and across New York City need these life-changing resources now more than ever, and I encourage them to take full advantage of this great program once applications open.”
“More than ever, it’s critical to give our city’s youth opportunities to work and learn this summer,” said New York City Councilmember Robert Holden. “Staying off the streets while learning valuable skills and interests will benefit them greatly and lead them to a brighter future, while helping make the city safer. This expansion is a smart investment by the mayor.”
HOCHUL $25M PROPOSAL FOR CLEAN ENERGY JOBS: Governor Kathy Hochul announced a $25 million statewide federal grant proposal supported by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, the New York State Department of Labor and the New York Community Colleges Energy Equity Consortium. This proposal will take a multi-faceted approach to re-skill and train New Yorkers, including displaced workers in the fossil fuel sector and members of disadvantaged communities, for new clean energy job opportunities. Additionally, the proposal will support community colleges with industry-driven curriculum development and micro-credentialing and provide a host of wraparound services to assist individuals with career success. The work under this proposal supports the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act) to deliver 35 percent with a goal of 40 percent of benefits from clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities and secure a just transition.
“This is the first-of-its-kind public-private statewide collaborative that reflects a joint commitment from government, industry, labor, education, manufacturing, and community-based organizations to prepare individuals from disadvantaged communities for New York’s clean energy transition,” Governor Hochul said. “To train New York’s workforce of the future, we need to think creatively so we can leverage existing expertise and resources to grow this new and exciting sector – and once again – New York State is leading the way forward.”
On behalf of the statewide collaborative, NYSERDA submitted a $25 million proposal for a funding opportunity through the U.S. Economic Development Association’s (EDA) Good Jobs Challenge. NYCCEE, a consortium of 24 SUNY/CUNY community colleges, employers, community-based organizations, unions, faith leaders and state and local government, will focus existing resources and explore opportunities to leverage state, federal and private funding to develop new training and career preparation in building electrification, offshore wind, solar, and advanced manufacturing. Each of the sectors will be led respectively by the Association for Energy Affordability (AEA), the Center for Economic Growth (CEG) and the NYC Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), and the Manufacturing Association of Central New York (MACNY). NYSERDA and NYSDOL will inform this effort to ensure it aligns with the recommendations of the New York State Climate Action Council and the Just Transition Working Group, as well as with the state’s overall workforce goals and objectives.
Additionally, participating CUNY/SUNY colleges will work together to develop curricula and pre-apprenticeships, structure distance and hybrid learning offerings, and build classes and programs that tap into their respective strengths. Credentials in clean energy will be developed by NYCCEE with active participation from industry advisors and environmental justice experts. Participants will also be offered wrap-around services in transportation, daycare, counseling, and other areas determined by local need.
Under NYSERDA’s EDA proposal, NYCCEE will train 2,000 new workers and reskill 1,500 existing workers followed by placement in quality, well-paying clean energy jobs, with a special focus on reaching underserved communities and priority populations. Arch Street Communications, a NY women-owned business with long-standing experience in clean energy and energy efficiency, would support program implementation if the proposal to EDA is funded.
US Senator Chuck Schumer said, “The fight against climate change isn’t just an investment in our environment; it also means good paying jobs, lower energy costs, and economic opportunity. NYSERDA’s proposal puts workers and the disadvantaged communities that have been on the frontlines of the climate crisis first and will train the next generation for thousands of clean energy jobs to fuel a brighter future for all New Yorkers,” said Senator Schumer. “From offshore wind to clean hydrogen, New York has been leading the nation in innovation and production for green energy and projects like this will supercharge our efforts as we transition away from fossil fuels. I will continue to fight tooth and nail to make sure New York is able to power the fight against climate change and our workers have the all skills and support they need to secure high-quality, good-paying jobs.”
US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said, “NYSERDA’s project proposal is a smart, innovative approach to a clean energy transition. It would allow New York to build a robust green energy workforce while also ensuring that displaced workers from the fossil fuel industry and members of disadvantaged communities aren’t left behind in the process. I urge the Economic Development Administration to grant this proposal full consideration.”
More information about NYSERDA’s workforce training and development initiatives can be found at www.nyserda.ny.gov/All-Programs/Clean-Energy-Workforce-Development
LIU STATEMENT ON HIGH SCHOOL ADMISSIONS EXTENSION: State Senator John C. Liu, chairperson of the Senate Committee on NYC Education, stated the following about the Department of Education announcement that the DOE will extend the high school application deadline until March 11, 2022. Liu has held protracted discussions with DOE officials on this matter.
“It’s only right that the DOE is extending this year’s high school application deadline to March 11th, from the original March 1st deadline announced on January 27th along with substantial changes to the admissions criteria. Many parents have articulated concern and some outrage at the new criteria more resembling a random lottery process rather than admissions based on merit and achievement. However, extending the deadline is only the first step. The DOE must further modify its admissions criteria to consider academic performance and better reflect achievement so as not to penalize the students who have pursued excellence under the previous long-standing admissions criteria. If in fact admissions criteria warrant changes, parents must be engaged prior to announcing such substantial changes in policy.”
LEGISLATION TO IMPROVE TEACHER DIVERSITY ADVANCES: The Senate Democratic Majority passed legislation to improve the diversity of New York’s teachers and encourage better representation across all demographics. This legislation will establish the Grow Your Own Initiative to attract underrepresented teachers into school districts; create a task force to study the impacts of these discrepancies and recommend solutions; develop recruitment programs to find and retain minority and bilingual educators, and establish statewide conventions for underrepresented educators to gather, network, and problem solve together.
“Many of us have an educator to thank for where we are in life, and many of us saw the possibilities on our horizons thanks to an educator who looked like us,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “Having representation from an early age not only serves as important role modeling but also greatly improves classroom connectivity and learning outcomes. Balancing the diversity of our teachers is a crucial step in furthering New York’s educational reforms and helps ensure that our school systems are truly built for everyone. I thank the bill sponsors and committee chairs for their commitment to this issue and advancing this critical legislation.”
Chair of the Senate Committee on NYC Education and Bill Sponsor, Senator John Liu said, “Our students’ educators should reflect the diversity of our student body, and Grow Your Own programs offer a proven approach to both recruiting good teachers and promoting an environment that cultivates better ideas, better outcomes, and brighter futures for all. If we are to truly ensure our schools are representative of the school population, we should always look to provide diverse, culturally responsive, community-based educators of color in order to best advance achievement for all students.”
The legislation passed by the Senate Democratic Majority includes:
, Grow Your Own Initiative: This legislation, Senate Bill S.1100A, sponsored by Senator John Liu, develops grow your own initiatives at school districts, boards of cooperative educational services and higher education institutions to attract underrepresented candidates into the teaching profession.
, Task Force on Educator Diversity: This legislation, Senate Bill S.255A, sponsored by Senator Jabari Brisport, establishes a task force on educator diversity in New York state to conduct a study on the state of diversity among educators in New York, and devise strategies to promote better diversity going forward.
, The Underrepresented Teachers of Tomorrow Program: This legislation, Senate Bill S.342, sponsored by Senator Roxanne Persaud, establishes the underrepresented teachers of tomorrow teacher recruitment and retention program, which would provide awards designed to attract and retain educators from underrepresented demographics.
, The Bilingual Teachers of Tomorrow Program: This legislation, Senate Bill S.5433, sponsored by Senator Kevin Parker, establishes the bilingual teachers of tomorrow teacher recruitment and retention program to attract and retain bilingual, certified teachers in areas of greatest need.
, Diversity and Empowerment Convention: This legislation, Senate Bill S.1984, sponsored by Senator Robert Jackson, will direct the commissioner to convene statewide and regional conventions to bring together underrepresented educators annually to discuss experiences and best practices, as well as allow for networking, mentorship opportunities, and support.
GIANARIS’ YOUTH LEADERSHIP RECOGNITION AWARD: Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris announced his annual Youth Leadership Recognition Awards program is now accepting nominations. The program recognizes outstanding high school students for their leadership in the classroom, on the sports field, in extracurricular or community activities.
“The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow and I am always proud to recognize the great young people of Queens,” said Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris. “I encourage young people to apply to this program and be highlighted for the work they do in our community.”
Senator Gianaris’ Youth Leadership Recognition Award program honors outstanding students who will become our future leaders. Eligible students include current sophomores, juniors, and seniors who excel not only academically, but through leadership in extracurricular and volunteer activities. Students selected to receive the New York State Senate Youth Leadership Recognition Award will receive a congratulatory personalized certificate from Senator Gianaris.
Applications will be accepted through March 25, 2022. For more information or to submit a nomination, visit gianaris.nysenate.gov.
GILLIBRAND FIGHTS FOR VICTIMS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING: On Feb. 16, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand held a video press conference to announce her support of two bipartisan bills, the Trafficking Survivors Relief Act and the Put Trafficking Victims First Act, that would support victims and survivors of human trafficking. She was joined by sex trafficking survivors and anti-trafficking advocates, including Shandra Woworuntu, founder and C.E.O. of Mentari, and Alexi Meyers, Director of Anti-Trafficking Policy at Sanctuary for Families and co-chair of the New York State Anti-Trafficking Coalition. In 2020, the United States reported nearly 11,000 cases of human trafficking, and New York State is the fourth highest-ranked state in the nation for reported cases. The two bills would help to identify and rescue trafficking victims, support victims in recovery, and remove barriers to data collection on human trafficking.
“Human trafficking is a horrific form of slavery that affects thousands of people across this country and hundreds in New York. All too often, victims of human trafficking are forced by their captors to commit crimes with no freedom to refuse and face criminal charges,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “Congress has a responsibility to end these injustices and clear non-violent criminal convictions of trafficking survivors so they can rebuild their lives without a criminal record. These bipartisan bills would help accomplish this goal and would also improve data collection on human trafficking to better identify patterns and provide a trauma-informed, victim-centered approach to recovery.”
Human trafficking is a modern form of slavery that involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to exploit a person for labor or commercial sex, or the exploitation of a minor for commercial sex. As a result of being trafficked, victims are commonly charged with crimes such as conspiracy, money laundering, drug trafficking, and related offenses that then follow them throughout the duration of their lives. A criminal record hurts a victim’s ability to find jobs and housing, which could leave them vulnerable to further exploitation and trafficking. The Trafficking Survivors Relief Act, co-led by Senator Portman (R-OH), would create a federal law to vacate and expunge non-violent criminal convictions of individuals who committed those crimes as a direct result of being trafficked. The new law would require victims to provide supporting documentation to certify their status as a victim of trafficking. These documents may include:
, Certified criminal or immigration court proceedings or law enforcement records demonstrating that the individual was a victim of trafficking at the time they were charged with the trafficking-related offense(s).
, Testimony or sworn statement from a trained professional staff member of a victim services organization, an attorney, member of the clergy, a health care professional, a therapist, or other professional from whom the person has sought assistance in addressing the trauma associated with being a victim of trafficking.
Gillibrand also announced their support for the Put Trafficking Victims First Act, co-led by Senator Rubio (R-FL), legislation that would help give the Attorney General and law enforcement entities the tools needed to provide trauma-informed support to victims of human trafficking, who often suffer from significant trauma and distrust due to their experience. Traffickers leverage a range of tools from psychological coercion to use of force to take advantage of and isolate potential victims, leaving a tremendous need for law enforcement entities and service providers to have access to tools to help victims escape and recover. Specifically, this bill would:
, Direct the Attorney General to provide training and technical assistance for federal, state, and local government agencies, prosecutors, and law enforcement officials to better investigate, prosecute, and prevent trafficking through a trauma-informed, victim-centered approach.
, Establish an expert working group to identify the methodological barriers hampering data collection on human trafficking and submit a report to Congress within 3 years.
, Direct the Attorney General to submit a report to Congress within 1 year on efforts to increase mandatory restitution orders and to provide restitution to trafficking victims.
, Encourage states to adopt rights and protections for victims, including access to housing, trauma-informed care, implementing better screening mechanisms for children entering child welfare services, creating state-level vacatur laws, and developing a state 24-hour emergency response plan to provide victims with immediate protection and support when they are first identified.
 
 
 
LEADING LGBTQ+ GROUP ENDORSES MALONEY FOR RE-ELECTION: A leading group of LGBTQ+ New Yorkers endorsed Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney for re-election. In a letter to the Stonewall Democrats of NYC, the first and only citywide LGBT Democratic organization, the group writes, “Carolyn has always been an outstanding champion for LGBTQ+ rights and for women. As a City Council member, she authored the first legislation in New York State history to provide legal recognition to same-sex couples with her domestic partnership bill. When she was elected to Congress, Carolyn quickly moved to include same-sex couples and domestic partnerships in the landmark Family & Medical Leave Act, became one of the first of just a handful of House members to publicly support marriage equality, and championed the Equal Rights Amendment of which she is the House sponsor.”
The letter continues with “Carolyn’s friends and supporters in New York, in the LGBTQ+ community and in the Stonewall Democrats of NYC need to stand with her […] As New York and the nation recover from the COVID-19 crisis, we need Carolyn in Congress to fight for all of us, now more than ever!”
A PDF of the letter can be found at Carolynmaloney.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=cb565ff38530a0222d24fe4af&id=cf71d123da&e=141383fee5.
The full list of endorsers: Congressmember Sean Patrick Maloney , Congressmember Ritchie Torres , NYS Assemblymember Deborah Glick, NYC Councilmember Erik Bottcher , NYC Councilmember Lynn Schulman , Hon. Danny Dromm , Hon. Corey Johnson , Hon. Rosie Mendez , Hon. Christine Quinn, , Liz Abzug , Marty Algaze, Richard Allman, Bob Baublitz, Charles Bayor, Susan L. Bender, Matt Carlin, Phyllis Chesler, Marti Allen Gould-Cummings , Chap James Day, Mitchell Draizin, Paul Del Duca, Judith Kasen-Windsor, Greg Lambert, Marc Levine, Christopher Lynn, Millie Margiotta, Diana Montford, Brice Peyre, Alfonso Quiroz, Benjamin Seaman, Thomas Shanahan, Tom Smith, Steve Strauss, Mark Thompson, Frank Wilkinson, Will Weder, and Bob Zuckerman.
TENNIS PERMITS NOW AVAILABLE: NYC Parks announced that its online tennis permit purchasing system is launching for the season. Tennis enthusiasts and those who may be interested in giving it a swing this year can purchase or renew their tennis permit online as of February 15. Tennis courts will officially open for the season beginning Sunday, April 3. The online tennis permit system streamlines the process and will make it even easier to renew for yourself or a loved one next year.
“Our outdoor tennis courts are treasured recreational spaces in all five boroughs as they provide fun and healthy exercise in the sunshine,” said NYC Parks Acting Commissioner Liam Kavanagh. “Whether you’re playing singles, doubles, or learning to play for the first time, your tennis reservation is only a few clicks away online.”
A permit is required to use an outdoor tennis court from the first Sunday of April to the Sunday before Thanksgiving. You can apply at www.nycgovparks.org/permits/tennis-permits/apply. Full-season permits for adults ages 18 to 61 cost $100. Adults with a valid IDNYC card can receive 10% off their full-season permit fee. Permits for seniors ages 62 and older cost $20. Permits for kids and teens younger than 18 years old cost $10. Once purchased, tennis permits cannot be refunded or transferred.
Please allow up to three weeks to receive your tennis permit by mail. Same-day permits are not offered online.
For more about tennis courts and permit reservations please visit www.nycgovparks.org/permits/tennis-permits.
CRACKDOWN ON LOUD CAR MEETUPS: Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D-Bayside), the 109th Precinct and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation are announcing that in an effort to thwart noisy and disruptive “car meetups” taking place after park hours, a gate and lock have been installed at the entrance of the Little Bay Park parking lot.
Located next to the entrance of Fort Totten, the Little Bay Park parking lot has become a late-night and early-morning gathering place for car enthusiasts. Many of these vehicles are extremely noisy due to modified muffler and exhaust systems, and the lot’s proximity to the Cross Island Parkway service road lends drivers to drag race on the thoroughfare and on local streets.
After conversations between Assemblyman Braunstein, the 109th Precinct and Queens Parks Department officials late last year, all parties determined that installing a gate and lock at this location would be an effective long term solution. Now, the parking lot gates are being locked by 109th Precinct Patrol Officers every day after 10 p.m., park closing, and are opened by NYC Parks Department personnel every morning. In addition, the 109th Precinct continues to engage in patrols and enforcement efforts in the immediate area.
“The new locking system at the Little Bay Park lot will deter drivers from gathering and creating a late-night disruption at the park and on surrounding streets. Coupled with continued interagency cooperation, this collaboration will hopefully put a stop to this quality of life concern for the long term,” said Assemblyman Edward Braunstein. “I thank Commanding Officer O’Connell and the 109th Precinct for their steadfast attention to this issue, as well as the NYC Parks Department for their role in acquiring the necessary infrastructure.”
“Since the introduction of locking up Little Bay Park parking lot, the 109th Precinct has received fewer complaints through 311, in meetings, emails, phone calls, and in person,” said Deputy Inspector John O’Connell, Commanding Officer of the 109th Precinct. “The 109th Precinct also has requested some wooden barriers to be dropped off at the parking lot to help thwart further entry during night-time hours. We also asked our Neighborhood Coordination Officers and Sector Patrol Officers to do routine directed patrols in the park.”
“The safety of Queens communities is always our top priority,” said NYC Parks Queens Borough Commissioner Michael Dockett. “Working together with Assemblyman Braunstein and our partners in the 109th Precinct, we are proud to have found a long term solution to ensure that this space continues to be a benefit to the community, and not a detriment.”
ADDABBO MOURNS THE DEATH OF A FAR ROCKAWAY FIREFIGHTER: NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr released the following statement on Feb. 17 after the death of a Far Rockaway firefighter: “It is with great sadness that we mourn the death of Firefighter Jesse Gerhard, a 33-year-old man in the prime of his life. Gerhard lost his life a day after battling a two-alarm fire, saving the lives of four people in the process. His spirit will live on with his family and the men and women of the FDNY, especially those at Ladder Company 134 where FF Gerhard bravely served the Far Rockaway community for the last two years.”
SCHUMER PUSHES TO REDUCE OUTRAGEOUS COST OF INSULIN: Standing alongside New Yorkers with diabetes and who need insulin daily, U.S. Senator Schumer doubled down on his push to reduce the outrageous cost of the drug and will call for a Senate vote in March to get the cost down from $200-$600 per vial to a cap of $35. Schumer said that the price of insulin has been rising rapidly for years, with an average increase of 15-17% per year since 2012. Schumer further said that 1 in 4 Americans now ration the drug, which is potentially life-threatening.
“I am doubling down today on my push to reduce the outrageous cost of insulin by telling New Yorkers, and all Americans, that I will call for a Senate vote on capping this cost come March,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “The current cost of this life-saving drug runs from $300-$600 per vial, it is not just ridiculous, it’s dangerous. Millions of Americans and too many New Yorkers stand with me on this push to cap the cost of insulin at $35 so we can stop rationing this drug, buying on the dangerous black market, and other methods that, quite frankly, risk life.”
“I’ve supplemented my income with weird Craigslist gigs, paid medical trials, credit card points, and one-off ‘under the table’ cash gigs. I would without a doubt move to another country if I didn’t have my family here, who I would miss,” said Rachael Marotta, one New Yorker who attended the Senator’s event and spoke about her personal efforts to control the cost of insulin in her life.
Across Nassau and Suffolk, an estimated 8.4% and 7.6% of adults are diagnosed with diabetes respectively. Across New York City, that number hovers even higher. Schumer pointed out that 48% of Americans used some medication—primarily insulin—to treat their diabetes. Overall, an estimated 1.7 million New York adults have been diagnosed diabetes and another 450,000 have diabetes, but don’t know it, Schumer noted.
Schumer said, until now, the diabetes community has felt the impact of the steep rise in the average cost of insulin. According to the American Diabetes Association, for millions of Americans living with diabetes, including all people living with type 1 diabetes, insulin is a life-saving drug that must be taken to control blood sugar.
Schumer also said numerous patient advocate groups have prioritized the need for affordable insulin for years. They have worked to educate Congress about the barriers people with diabetes face in accessing affordable insulin. They have shared policy recommendations, testimony, and a collection of patient stories illustrating that people with diabetes continue to suffer due to the high price of insulin.
Overall numbers from the American Diabetes Association:
o Nearly 1.9 million Americans have type 1 diabetes, including about 244,000 children and adolescents
KIM PUSHES FOR $50M TO HELP PROTECT OLDER ADULTS: Assemblyman Ron Kim, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Aging, proposed to the Speaker that more than $50 million be included in the state’s annual budget to protect older adults. As the pandemic continues to ravage the country’s older adult population, AM Kim pushed for historic levels of investment into their social services.
In the months leading up to the budget request, the Aging Committee Chair met and spoke with numerous advocates and stakeholders, and held weeks-long negotiations with colleagues.
Some of the major highlights from his budget recommendations include:
, Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program – $20 million
, Meals on Wheels – $14.1 million
, Case Management Services – $6 million
, Combat Social Isolation, Elder Abuse & Support Caregivers – $2.9 million
, The Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation Pilot Program – $750,000
Assemblymember Ron Kim: “My recommendations for funding in this year’s state budget will provide much-needed support and protection for older adults. The pandemic has left many of our most vulnerable residents in an even more precarious situation — it is my top priority to bring them the safety and security they need. These critical investments, paired with my continuing fight to strengthen and protect patient rights, is one of the many steps I will take to help our older adult population.
CABÁN EXPLAINS BUDGET: Council Member Tiffany Cabán commented, “It is often said that ‘a budget is a moral document.’ However, not only do the priorities expressed in a budget reveal the values of the government producing it, our moral values are also demonstrated by how we go through the budget process. Our office stands for transparency and accountability, so, now that the Mayor has released his Preliminary Budget, we wanted to give you a sense of how the process will unfold in the coming months.
“New York City’s budget process is long and notoriously opaque. Every January or February, the Mayor releases the Preliminary Budget which outlines their priorities and broad goals. The City Council, as a co-equal branch of government, then starts its investigative process, conducting preliminary budget hearings on every single city agency (Department of Education, Department of Transportation, Department of Sanitation, etc.). The public is invited to testify.
“The City Council then issues its official response to the Mayor’s Preliminary Budget. With the City Council’s concerns and recommendations in mind, the Mayor then releases the Executive Budget in April. The City Council then conducts another round of hearings and the Speaker of the City Council begins negotiations with the Mayor. Negotiations can be smooth or fraught; the entire process concludes with a ‘handshake’ agreement between the Mayor and the Speaker and a vote of the full Council on the official Adopted Budget.
“Our city’s budget impacts every person who lives and works here. The programs and initiatives that are funded, cut, expanded, or newly-created shape the contours of our day-to-day lives. We’re committed to bringing you along throughout the entire process, whether through social media channels, op-eds, or this newsletter, and receiving your feedback and ideas every step of the way.”
Cabán’s Updates, FYIs, and Coming Ups:
HOCHUL FUNDS ASIAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS: Governor Kathy Hochul announced $10 million in awards for organizations providing services to Asian American communities that were disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding, allocated in the FY 2021-22 budget, will be distributed to community-based groups through the Asian American Federation (AAF), the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families (CACF), and the Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC), as well as other organizations. There will be a focus on community programs and providers that bring services and supportive programs directly to New York’s Asian American communities. This will be the largest investment in the Asian American community in New York State history.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on so many vulnerable and marginalized communities across New York State,” Governor Hochul said. “The Asian American community was especially hard hit, not only by the virus, but by an increase in hate and violent crimes. With this $10 million in funding, we are sending a strong message that hate has no home here, and we will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with our sisters and brothers in the Asian American community. My administration is laser focused on continuing to help communities that have for too long been forgotten, not only as we recover from this pandemic, but for years to come.”
The Asian American Federation (AAF) will receive a total of $6.8 million in funding intended to reinforce the community support offered by a network of organizations that have witnessed a sudden increase in demand for services due to the pandemic. AAF will direct the funding to 59 community organizations listed below that provide direct services, case management, and mental health support that serve Asian New Yorkers throughout New York State. In addition, the New York State Assembly is directing $1.4 million in Legislative aid to another 40 organizations that serve a wide array of communities in New York. The following organizations will receive aid from AAF: A Place for Kids, Academy of Medical & Public Health Services, Adhikaar for Human Rights and Social Justice, Arab American Association of New York, Arab-American Family Support Center, Asian American Arts Alliance, Asian American Community Empowerment, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Asian Americans for Equality, Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs, Bridges From Borders, Brooklyn Chinese-American Association, Brooklyn Community Improvement Association, Burmese Community Services, Caribbean Equality Project, Center for the Integration and Advancement of New Americans, Chhaya Community Development Corporation, Chinatown Partnership LDC, Chinatown YMCA, Chinese American IPA, Chinese American Social Services Center, Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, Chinese Progressive Association, Chinese-American Family Alliance for Mental Health, CMP, Council of Peoples Organization, Damayan Migrant Workers Association, Desis Rising Up and Moving, Garden of Hope, Hamilton-Madison House, Homecrest Community Services, Immigrant Social Services, India Home, Jahajee Sisters, Japanese American Association of New York, Japanese American Social Services, Inc., Karen Society of Buffalo, Korean American Family Service Center, Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York, Laal NYC, Mekong Center NYC, Midtown Utica Community Center, Migrant Center, MinKwon Center, Refugees Helping Refugees, Sakhi for South Asian Women, Sapna NYC, Sikh Coalition, South Asian Council for Social Service, South Asian Youth Action, Turning Point for Women and Families, United Chinese Association of Brooklyn, Womankind (formerly NYAWC), Women for Afghan Women, YWCA of Queens.
The Coalition for Asian American Children and Families will receive over $1 million, and they will be partnering with a host of organizations – including Apex for Youth, the Arab American Family Support Center, Asian Americans for Equality, Chinese-American Planning Council, South Asian Youth Action! Korean American Family Service Center, MinKwon Center for Community Action, and Mekong NYC — to enhance youth and young adult services targeting Asian American communities by focusing on social emotional development and mental well-being.
The Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC), a social services organization that creates positive social change, will receive almost $700,000 to help empower Asian American, immigrant, and low-income communities in New York City by ensuring they have equitable access to the resources and opportunities needed to thrive. The funding will support CPC’s culturally competent, linguistically appropriate community services and programs to improve the social determinants of health for children, youth, students, families, and seniors. Through this initiative, they will expand public access to resources, expand workforce service, enhance wrap-around case management and expand early childhood development.
Senator John Liu said, “The AAPI community has been the target of relentless hatred, bigotry, and violence for the last two years, and we desperately need resources that would address the root cause of these attacks. While we are grateful to see the implementation of last year’s $10 million budget allocation, the siege against Asian Americans continues unabated, as does our need for additional resources. We must address a range of needs such as community safety, services for youth and senior citizens, mental health support for Asian New Yorkers, and the implementation of AAPI curriculum in public schools.”
FROM BP RICHARDS: “Every community goes through its share of adversity at times. In recent weeks, it’s been the families of eastern Rockaway experiencing unjust anger and loss. First, hundreds of tenants at the New York City Housing Authority’s Carleton Manor complex in Arverne have gone without hot water for upwards of four months,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. Standing in solidarity with Carleton Manor families, Borough President Richards joined with residents on Feb. 7 to demand NYCHA both immediately rectify the outage and offer a temporary rent rebate.
“Just two days later, tragedy struck Far Rockaway as 10-year-old Davina Afokoba was hit and killed by an out-of-control motorist, leaving her family and school community to grieve her unimaginable loss.
“On Feb. 16, it was the FDNY community in mourning as firefighter Jesse Gerhard of Far Rockaway’s Ladder 134 passed away after suffering a medical episode in his firehouse.
“To the Afokoba and Gerhard families, we mourn the loss of your loved ones. To the residents of Carleton Manor, we stand with you in your fight for dignity and respect. To all who call Far Rockaway home, you will always have an ally and an advocate at Queens Borough Hall.
“My office is here to serve you and your family. To learn more about how we’re working to build a better Queens, visit our website at queensbp.org, or contact us by phone at 718-286-3000 or by email at info@queensbp.org.”
Mourning the Loss of Davina Afokoba: Far Rockaway fifth-grader Davina Afokoba was just 10 years old when she lost her life on Feb. 9 after being struck by vehicle as she walked down Beach Channel Drive just minutes from her home. The collective heart of Queens goes out to her entire family, which has launched a fundraiser to help cover funeral costs and other end-of-life expenses. If you would like to contribute, visit www.gofundme.com/f/help-for-davin-afokobas-family/
Saying Farewell to an FDNY Hero: FDNY Firefighter Jesse Gerhard and his Ladder 134 colleagues helped battle a two-alarm house fire on Beach Channel Drive on Feb. 15, working heroically to ensure the safety of the neighborhood he served. One day later, the 33-year-old collapsed in his Far Rockaway firehouse following a medical episode and passed away. The thoughts of The World’s Borough are with the Gerhard family during this tragic time.
Catching Up With Chancellor Banks: New NYC Schools Chancellor David Banks was the guest speaker at Borough President Richards’ Queens Parent Advisory Board meeting on Feb. 15, speaking with hundreds of parents on topics ranging from COVID-19 protocols, gifted and talented programs, classroom overcrowding, ensuring the safety of our students and more. To watch a recording of the meeting, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMiJxDDOoWc&
Queens Land Use Public Hearing, Thursday, February 24 at 9:30am, Held via Zoom. Live stream: www.queensbp.org.
LaGuardia Airport Terminal C Hiring Event, Thursday, February 24 from 10am to 3pm, Elmcor Youth and Adult Activities Center, 107-20 Northern Boulevard in Corona. To RSVP visit events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07ej020w7if80b53b9&llr=f6mn4yzab
Bartlett Dairy Employment Info Session (Morning), Monday, February 28 from 10am to 11am
Held virtually. To RSVP visit nycedc.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJwuduqppj0rEtDM2t6m28n9YdKAqXxfmlYu
Bartlett Dairy Employment Info Session (Evening), Monday, February 28 from 5pm to 6pm
Held virtually. To RSVP visit nycedc.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJwtc–prTIvGdcLHSjoNqS70fujrxoafZ2E
Virtual New York State Redistricting Update and Information Session, Monday, February 28 at 6pm
Live stream: www.queensbp.org
GRANT SUPPORTS INDY DESIGNERS DURING FASHION WEEK: Governor Kathy Hochul announced a partnership with IMG to implement a $500,000 grant program to assist small, independent fashion designers with grants of $50,000 each to offset certain costs of their New York Fashion Week show productions for the September 2022 season. IMG will implement and manage an application process for a selection of ten grant recipients based on a set of criteria developed by IMG in partnership with Empire State Development.
“Fashion Week is a celebration of New York’s role as the fashion capital of the world, drawing and inspiring an unparalleled array of creative talent,” Governor Hochul said. “As we make our comeback from the pandemic, it is essential that we prioritize the recovery of one of New York’s most exciting and dynamic industries. By partnering with New York’s best small and independent designers we are strengthening our economy and supporting vibrant development in this crucial industry.”
The grant program will help support the vibrant return of the New York fashion industry post-COVID-19, attract and retain New York’s fashion talent, and enable more small and independent New York-based designers to participate in recovery efforts. The opportunity to debut new collections to buyer, media, industry and consumer audiences powers the continued success of fashion designers’ businesses in America’s fashion capital.
The public and private sectors are working together to support small businesses impacted while restoring and creating new jobs for New Yorkers. The fashion, retail and creative industries together represent a key economic engine for New York State that has been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic New York City’s fashion industry employed 4.6 percent of the city’s workforce, generating approximately $11 billion in total wages. The Governor attended the Proenza Schouler show on Friday, February 11 to highlight the industry’s contributions to the state economy.
In September 2021, IMG formed the Fashion Alliance to create a cornerstone for New York Fashion Week’s revitalization in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and provide support, funding, and resources for a group of New York Fashion Week’s independent designer brands through 2022. This new grant funded by New York State will help to provide additional support to more independent designers based in New York.
New York Fashion Week: The Shows took place this season from February 11-16, live from Spring Studios in Lower Manhattan, and is the official central event of New York Fashion Week. Proof of full-course COVID-19 vaccination, including via Excelsior Pass, Excelsior Pass Plus or alternate verification methods, is required at all NYFW: The Shows events this February.
CRUZ: PROTECTING OUR HOMES: Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz released the following statement:While the Assembly is in session, we continue to be active in our community. This past week we hosted events as diverse as the people we represent. We co-hosted Lunar New Year celebrations and handed out COVID-19 tests and protective equipment to help protect the health of our families. In Albany, Iʼve been fighting to pass legislation aimed at protecting our community from unfair housing practices and fighting for a budget that truly invests in our neighbors.” She also hosted online forums on immigrants’ rights and fire safety.
Below are her recent efforts and info:
Protecting Our Homes:
“The pandemic has been hard financially on many of our neighbors. I joined many others in the Assembly to support our neighbors by demanding the passage of my bill, the COVID-19 Community Protection Act (A.6574) to stop those who use our homes to flip and make a profit, as well as the Good Cause Eviction bill (A.5573) to protect you from unwarranted evictions.”
Ringing in the Lunar New Year in Elmhurst:
“Earlier this month, Team Catalina was proud to co-host a beautiful Lunar New Year celebration in Elmhurst. It was a joy to participate in the spirited festivities and witness the flourishing of our resilient and diverse AAPI community. As the year of the Tiger begins, I would like to wish everyone a healthy and prosperous new year!”
Utility Bill Assistance
“This month many of us saw or will see a higher than expected electricity bill. You can receive help dealing with your bill by applying for heating and utility assistance by visiting ny.gov/heat. If you qualify, you can receive up to $751 in financial assistance. If you need further help applying, please call our office at 718-458-5367.”
LaGuardia Airport Hiring Event
LaGuardia Airport is hosting a hiring event at Elmcor Youth and Adult Activities Center on Thursday, February 24th from 10 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. More than 250 positions are available at Terminal C at LaGuardia Airport. Applicants are to bring a resume and wear professional attire. To register, visit: events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/eventReg?oeidk=a07ej020w7if80b53b9&oseq=&c=&ch=
Office Hours
For the health and safety of you, our community, and Team Catalina, the District Office will be operating remotely until further notice. We remain here to help you with your housing, immigration, public benefits, or any other issue. You can reach out to us by calling (718) 458-5367 or emailing jusinok@nyassembly.gov. Our hours remain the same, we will be available Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
 
—With contributions by Annette Hanze Alberts
This column was originated by John A. Toscano
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