Legislative Update Turkey Day Giveaway: Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (DFar Rockaway) participated in this year’s annual turkey giveaway sponsored by the Jewish Community Council of the Rockaway Peninsula and Health Plus. Pictured l. to r.: Emil Skandul, Councilman James Sanders’ office; Kathy Rosenberg, JCCRP Executive Director; Nama Frandois, Health Plus; Assemblyman Goldfeder; Joseph Bouquet, Health Plus; and Richard Altabe, JCCRP Board Member.
Human Rights Repor t The Human Rights Project at the Urban Justice Center has released its annual New
Turner On Budget Congressman Bob Turner (NY-09) issued the following statement regarding the passing of H.R. 674 and the debate on the Balanced Budget Amendment. “Yesterday’s announcement that our national debt has reached an astonishing $15 trillion has made it even more critical for the President and the Members of Congress to do everything we can to cut government spending and encourage economic growth. I am proud to have voted for the 3 percent Withholding Repeal and Job Creation Act. Repealing the 3 percent payment withholding to vendors will keep money in the pockets of job creators. Passing this bill is a great example of what we should be doing and I am proud to have taken part in the bipartisan effort. “It is obvious we still have much to do. Today, we will start discussing a measure that would require the federal government to do what we tell our children to do every day: only spend the money you have. The balanced budget amendment, along with the 20 bipartisan bills passed by the House that are still stalled in the Senate, will help get our country back to being fiscally responsible and our economy back to prosperity. We must take action now to get our country back on track.”Miller’s Bills With the New York State legislature set to convene after the upcoming holiday season Assemblyman Mike Miller has introduced a series of bills that he believes will alleviate many current concerns within the community. A8659 will require owners of new multiple dwelling units to install insect screens in all windows. The bill is aimed at protecting the residents of these buildings from mosquitoes, pests, and the potentially life-threatening illnesses they can spread. A8660 will give the NYPD, and other local police departments throughout New York State, the authority to immediately impound vehicles with purposefully obstructed plates. The Assemblyman has also introduced a bill which will give the police the authority to impound vehicles listed “For Sale” with missing or improper registration. These two pieces of legislation were in direct response to a situation unfolding, primarily along Woodhaven Boulevard, where abandoned vehicles have been left listed “For Sale” with no proper license plates or registration. The law would seek to the police the authority to swiftly address the issue and discourage any future incidents. A8645 will prevent any restaurant from selling beer and/or wine for consumption on the premises within 200 feet of a school or a house of worship. Current state law already prohibits the sale of liquor under these conditions, but beer and wine are not included. A situation arose when an establishment wanted to open its doors in Woodhaven. The storefront property was in a residential neighborhood and also housed a local church. After public outcry from the community was heard, this bill was introduced as a compromise. The business could continue operating but they will not be allowed to sell beer and wine. “These bills are about the quality of our lives” Assemblyman Miller said of his proposals. “When there is a need in the community for a State law to be changed or introduced it’s my job to make sure that happens. Whether it’s public health, public safety, or peace of mind, I want to make sure the laws I introduce work to improve the lives of people. I believe we will achieve that in the upcoming session.
Senior Health Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Hollis Hills) held a Senior Health Forum on Friday at SNAP on Friday Nov. 18.
This year several senior programs were forced to undergo changes due to budget cuts. “With the rising cost of medication and our tough economy, it’s important for seniors to be aware of these changes and find out how to best protect themselves, and their wallets,” Assemblyman Weprin said. Laura Mulvihill, a representative from EPIC discussed the changes to the program. Beginning Jan. 1, 2012, the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) program is changing. EPIC will be a free program for eligible seniors that will provide Medicare Part D drug plan premium assistance for those with incomes up to $23,000 married or $29,000 single. It will also provide supplemental prescription coverage for approved medications when a member enters the Medicare Part D coverage gap. To join EPIC, a senior must be a NYS resident, 65 years of age or older, with annual income below $35,000 (single) or $50,000 (married). The senior must be eligible to enroll or enrolled in a Medicare Part D plan and not receiving full Medicaid benefits. Seniors, who are interested in joining EPIC can call the EPIC Helpline at (800) 332-3742 Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. or visit the EPIC website at nyhealth.gov and click on EPIC for Seniors.
Bay Terrace Bus Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside) announced that an agreement has been reached between MTA New York City Transit and Cord Meyer Development to install a bus pad made of reinforced asphalt and to continue providing Q28 bus service to the Bay Terrace Shopping Center. “The bus stop at 23rd Avenue and 213th Place is a vital stop for the MTA Q28 bus, as it not only allows passengers to depart at the Bay Terrace Shopping Center, but also provides a turnaround point so that the Q28 can restart its route,” Braunstein said. “For many years, Cord Meyer has generously paid to repair the asphalt at the Bay Terrace Shopping Center that is damaged by Q28 buses. The installation of a bus pad by the MTA, similar to those already present at other bus stops, benefits all parties involved by preventing further damage to the street. This agreement is a great example of business and government working together to put the community first. I applaud Cord Meyer and the MTA for being reasonable and negotiating in good faith.” “We’re happy to have reached an agreement with Cord Meyer on this issue,” said MTA NYC Transit President Thomas Prendergast. “By building and maintaining this bus pad of reinforced asphalt, MTA New York City Transit will be able to safely continue to serve shoppers at the Bay Terrace Shopping Center and maintain this vital link between Bayside and downtown Flushing via the Q28 bus route.” “I am relieved that Cord Meyer Development and the MTA have come to an agreement on the Q28 bus stop on 213th Place off of 23rd Avenue. I would like to thank Assemblyman Edward Braunstein, the MTA and Community Board 7 for working together with us to resolve this issue,” said Peter Galletta, Vice President of Cord Meyer Development. “The Bay Terrace Community Alliance thanks Assemblyman Edward Braunstein, Cord Meyer Development and the MTA for their hard work in making this happen. Having the Q28 continue to stop in the Bay Terrace Shopping Center is a win-win for all involved, especially the community which has come to depend on being served by the current Q28 bus routing,” said Warren Schreiber, President of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance and the Bay Terrace Co-op Section 1.
www.queenstribune.com • Nov. 24-30, 2011 Tribune Page 11
In an effort to preserve New York’s stock of affordable housing and protect more than 2.5 million tenants in New York City and the surrounding counties, Sen. Shirley Huntley (D-Jamaica) and the State Senate passed a four-year extension and expansion of rent regulations. The legislation marks the first time in almost 30 years that rent laws have been strengthened to provide greater protections for tenants. “We were not going to let millions of families face eviction due to the expiration of rent regulations,” Huntley said. “By passing the first expansion of rent laws in over a generation, tenants will finally receive some of the added protections they need to remain in their homes. While I wish we could have done even more to strengthen rent regulations and stabilize New York’s stock of affordable housing, our journey to achieve lasting tenant protections is not over – it has just begun.” In Southeast Queens, which covers much of Huntley’s 10th district, there are more than 15,000 rent-regulated apartments. Passing an expansion of stronger rent laws will provide families a sense of security and stability. It is vitally important that housing in New York City remain available and affordable, especially for seniors, the disabled, and minority communities who have greater income disparity compared to other residents. Due to the economy, the divide between the rich and the poor is growing wider, and the number of middle class families declining as a result. Keeping units in place and safe from vacancy decontrol will inevitably keep more middle and working class families in Queens and throughout New York City. Between 1994 and 2010, it is estimated that more than 300,000 units of affordable housing were removed from rent regulation, and more than 1 million more units were in jeopardy of being lost to deregulation if rent regulations were not extended. To stop deregulation and stabilize New York’s stock of affordable housing through long-term safeguards that protect tenants, Huntley pushed for and achieved strengthened rent laws which in part: extend rent regulations for another four years; raise the annual household income threshold for deregulation to $250,000 per year from $200,000; raise the monthly rent threshold for deregulation to $2,500 per month from $2,000; require landlords making major capital improvements to an apartment for more than 10 percent of the monthly rent to get their claims verified by state housing officials before they can pass along costs to tenants; and a fouryear extension of the 421-a tax credit for economic development projects where the developer agrees to set aside 20 percent of the units for affordable housing.
York City Council Human Rights Report Card, grading each of the fifty-one members of the New York City Council on his or her human rights record. The 110-page analysis is based on votes and sponsorship of key legislation before the Council in the past twelve months. In addition to the grades, the 2011 Report Card examines legislative trends over the past year. The findings reveal that, while some laudable bills were passed this year—such as the School Safety Act, which requires reporting on police activity in schools—only sixteen percent of all enacted legislation was determined to significantly promote human rights. The report also places special emphasis on the political power of City Council Speaker, Christine Quinn, in setting the Council’s legislative agenda. The report finds that legislation that does not enjoy the support of the Speaker (demonstrated by sponsorship) is much less likely to have a hearing, be brought to a vote, or pass into law. The report puts special emphasis on several pieces of human rights legislation—such as Paid Sick Time, the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act, and legislation calling for accessible new taxi cabs—that, despite having had a hearing and a veto-proof majority of Council Members signed on as sponsors, have not been brought to a vote. “New Yorkers, like the rest of the country, are sick and tired of the economic inequality that pervades our lives. The Council can and should take steps within its power to ameliorate conditions for ordinary New Yorkers and many of these stalled billed would help.” said Ejim Dike, Director of the Human Rights Project. “We have identified existing mechanisms in the rules of Council that allow members to challenge the political power of the Speaker, and New Yorkers should call on them to utilize those rules even if that means weathering political reprisals.” The 2011 Report Card also highlights specific Council Members with a demonstrated commitment to helping advance human rights for all New Yorkers. The highest scoring Council Members who made the AList include: Melissa Mark-Viverito, Manhattan Council District 8 – Democrat (Score: 90 percent) Helen D. Foster, Bronx Council District 16 – Democrat (Score: 88 percent) Letitia James, Brooklyn Council District 35 – Democrat (Score: 88 percent) Jumaane D. Williams, Brooklyn Council District 45 – Democrat (Score: 88 percent) Charles Barron, Brooklyn Council District 42 – Democrat (Score: 80 percent) Brad Lander, Brooklyn Council District 39 – Democrat (Score: 74 percent) Gale Brewer, Manhattan Council District 6 – Democrat (Score: 73 percent) G. Oliver Koppell, Manhattan Council District 11- Democrat (Score 65 percent) Jimmy Van Bramer, Queens Council District 26- Democrat (Score 65 percent) To view the 2011 Report Card, and to
order hard copies visit: hrpujc.org
Queens Tribune Epaper 112411