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ADAMS PROTECTS GENDER-AFFIRMING HEALTH CARE: In another effort to strongly support the LGBTQ+ community, New York City Mayor Eric Adams signed Executive Order 32 to protect access to gender-affirming health care in New York City. The executive order prevents the use of city resources to detain any individual who is providing or receiving gender-affirming health care services in New York City. Additionally, the executive order denies the use of resources by the City of New York to cooperate with any prosecution or investigation by another state of an individual for providing or receiving gender-affirming care. As LGBTQ+ rights continue to be threatened across the country, Executive Order 32 reaffirms New York City’s historic place as a national leader and supporter for all seeking the health care and medical attention needed, especially for transgender and nonbinary people.

“As states across the nation continue their onslaught of attacks on our LGBTQ+ neighbors, New York City is doing what we have always done — standing up for justice and against discrimination,” said Mayor Adams. “This executive order reaffirms the fact that hate has no place in our city and that all people deserve the right to gender-affirming care and protection against prosecution for being who they are. To LGBTQ+ people across the nation feeling hurt, isolated, or threatened, we have a clear message for you: New York City has and will always be a welcoming home for you.”

Gender-affirming care is essential to the health and wellness of many transgender and non-binary people. Major medical organizations, including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, which collectively represent 1.3 million doctors, have recognized the medical necessity of age-appropriate gender-affirming care for transgender and non-binary people.

Nationwide, at least 20 states have passed repressive new laws that restrict the ability for minors to receive gender affirming care, and 34 states have introduced legislation to restrict or prohibit access to gender-affirming care for individuals 18 and older. In some states, if a health care provider violates these laws, that state could request New York City detain them if they are in the city. But, under Executive Order 32 signed by Mayor Adams, these individuals will now be granted the protection and privacy in New York City to either receive or provide care that is medically needed. If a health care provider in a restricted state works with NYC Health + Hospitals, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, or another city agency to provide gender-affirming services to support an individual, the City of New York will not cooperate with that state’s investigation of the provider.

“As LGBTQ+ people nationwide find themselves under attack for receiving the care they need, New York City is leading the nation to show what must be done,” said First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright. “I applaud this administration for using the power of government to stand up and do what’s right by protecting rights that are under attack. Our city’s history is rooted in the Stonewall Inn and the founding of the modern LGBTQ+ movement. With today’s announcement, we are telling the nation that we have not forgotten our past and will continue to fight for the future.”

Last week, Mayor Adams, the New York City Police Department Community Affairs Bureau, the Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes, and the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit announced a new process for New Yorkers to contact the NYPD to re-examine cases involving LGBTQ+ victims, including cold cases.

SPEAKER ADAMS ON PASSAGE OF CLEAN SLATE ACT: City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said, “I applaud the State Legislature’s passage of the Clean Slate Act that can help improve communities, public safety, and our economy. This bill can open pathways to success for the more than 2 million New Yorkers with an old conviction record who have been blocked from access to employment, housing, education, and other economic opportunities. With the increased participation in our workforce and society created by this legislation, New York is estimated to take in an additional $7 billion annually in state earnings, boosting our economy and recovery from the pandemic. The evidence is clear that when people with old records trying to move forward in their lives have economic opportunities, recidivism is decreased and public safety is improved. I thank Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and the bill’s sponsors for their leadership, as well as the advocates whose hard work and persistence advanced this legislation to the finish line.”

PLAN TO SUPPORT SMALL BUSINESS GROWTH: New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of City Planning (DCP) Director and City Planning Commission Chair Dan Garodnick unveiled “City of Yes for Economic Opportunity,” a proposal that would change zoning citywide to support new and growing small businesses, create family-sustaining jobs for New Yorkers, and promote an inclusive and more equitable economic recovery for the city. The plan would allow for the largest expansion of space available for small-scale producers like clean manufacturers and microbreweries in 60 years, foster growth for more than 17,000 businesses in industrial areas currently prevented from adding square footage, and eliminate outdated rules that ban dancing in restaurants and venues in commercial zones.

City of Yes for Economic Opportunity would double the space available to growing clean manufacturing businesses — expanding that area by more than 14,000 acres (approximately the size of Manhattan). The proposal would also create a process to allow new corner stores to open in residential areas. More than 250,000 New Yorkers currently live in areas where a new corner store cannot be located within a quarter mile.

“The ‘City of Yes’ is all about making New York City the place to be, and this plan doubles down on that,” said Mayor Adams. “Last year, I said New York City would lead the nation’s economic recovery by transforming into a City of Yes. Now, we’ve regained 99 percent of the jobs lost during the pandemic because we’re supporting new small businesses and making it easier for others to grow. With our administration’s vision, New Yorkers and visitors alike will be able to dance, laugh, and have a beer; businesses will grow and create good jobs; and fun will drive an inclusive recovery for our city.”

City of Yes for Economic Opportunity focuses on four pillars to drive an equitable New York City economy: revitalizing commercial corridors, filling vacant storefronts, investing in key growth industries, and modernizing use regulations. In particular, the proposed zoning changes will eliminate barriers to growth for entrepreneurs and key industries — complementing key investments in neighborhoods, small businesses, and community corridors.

The proposed text amendment includes 18 policy changes that would expand options for businesses to locate near their customers, support growing industries and sectors, foster vibrant neighborhoods and commercial corridors, and provide businesses more certainty and clarity with updated zoning rules.

City of Yes for Economic Opportunity is the second of three citywide zoning proposals that make up Mayor Adams’ City of Yes plan, announced in June 2022. The first proposal, “City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality,” began public review in April 2023 — and community boards across the city have already begun to vote in support. Preliminary information about the third proposal, “City of Yes for Housing Opportunity,” is available online. All three proposed text amendments, following their respective public review processes, must ultimately be approved by the New York City Council.

The City of Yes for Economic Opportunity plan builds on the Adams administration’s major efforts in communities across the city to update zoning, spur economic recovery, and create affordable homes. Mayor Adams’ vision for the transformation of Willets Point would create 16,000 jobs and add over $6 billion to the city’s economy, while his plan with New York Governor Kathy Hochul for the first-of-its-kind job SPARC Kips Bay life sciences hub will create another 12,000 jobs and $25 billion in economic activity. These efforts also complement the Adams administration’s community planning efforts in the East Bronx, Central Brooklyn, the North Shore of Staten Island, Midtown South, and Jamaica.

DCP held the first information session about City of Yes for Economic Opportunity on June 13th at 7:00 PM to provide New Yorkers with an opportunity to ask questions and hear more details about the initiative. Information on upcoming sessions will be available online.

Public review for the zoning text amendment will begin after formal referral this fall. The text amendment will go before all 59 community boards and all five borough presidents and borough boards for recommendations. Afterwards, it will go before the City Planning Commission for a public hearing and vote, followed by a hearing and vote in the City Council.

“Small businesses create jobs in every corner of our city and add to the unique character of each of our neighborhoods,” said Thomas J. Grech, President and CEO, Queens Chamber of Commerce. “The City of Yes for Economic Opportunity initiative will remove outdated regulations — allowing small businesses to grow and thrive, driving our city’s economic recovery, and ensuring that economic opportunity reaches all New Yorkers. The rest of the nation is not standing still, waiting for us to act. We here in Queens are grateful for the efforts of Mayor Eric Adams and DCP Director and City Planning Commission Chair Dan Garodnick for this critical initiative.”

WORKERS CHARGED IN STRANGULATION OF CUSTOMER: Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced that Saber Abuhamra and Jorge Hernandez are charged with assault and strangulation after they allegedly came out from behind the counter at a Rockaway Park deli and attacked a customer who complained about his food. The custormer is now fighting for his life.

District Attorney Katz said: “This is yet another instance where a seemingly minor dispute escalated into serious physical violence. We will hold these defendants accountable.”

Abuhamra, 34, and Jorge Hernandez, 23, of Cornaga Avenue in Far Rockaway, were arraigned on charges of assault in the second degree, strangulation in the second degree and assault in the third degree. Queens Criminal Court Judge Maria Gonzalez ordered them to return to court June 16. If convicted, they each face up to seven years in prison.

According to the charges:

  • On June 11, between 4:50 a.m. and 5:15 a.m., Jorge Hernandez, a worker at the Pickles and Pies Food Market and Deli at 202 Beach 116th Street in Rockaway Park, punched 31-year-old James Keena of Arverne and pushed him, causing him to hit his head on a counter. Hernandez then put his arm around Keena’s neck and held him on the floor while Abuhamra punched and kicked him in the head and stomach.
  • Hernandez continued holding his arm around Keena’s neck and Abuharma continued punching and kicking him for several minutes after he lost consciousness and until he began seizing and shaking.
  • Keena was taken to the hospital in critical condition and placed on life support because he was unable to breathe on his own.

MILLION-DOLLAR DRUG-AND GUN-TRAFFICKING RING TAKEN DOWN: Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced that an investigation in collaboration with the NYPD has led to drug and gun trafficking charges being filed against eight men and the seizure of narcotics with a street value of more than $1 million. Three of the defendants are charged as major drug traffickers. The year-and-a-half-long investigation was sparked by violence and drug sales in and around Rufus King Park in Jamaica.

District Attorney Katz said: “We allege these men were significant drug and gun traffickers who were a grave threat to public safety as peddlers of death and addiction. We will hold accountable anyone threatening the safety of our neighborhoods. We are grateful to the brave undercovers who worked with us on this case. I also want to thank the New York State Police and Nassau County Police for their help. My team and I look forward to prosecuting this case on behalf of the communities we serve.”

NYPD Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell said: “The NYPD’s fight against the trafficking of illegal guns and illicit narcotics in our city is at the forefront of our public-safety mission. The defendants in this case showed a callous disregard for human life, and we will never waver in our efforts to hold them – and anyone else who threatens the people we serve – fully accountable. I want to thank our NYPD investigators, the Office of the Queens District Attorney, the New York State Police, and the Nassau County Police Department for their work on this important case.”

Through a long-term wiretap investigation authorized by District Attorney Katz and supervised by members of her office, the police intercepted numerous communications in which the defendants openly discussed their illegal activities and were able to secure search warrants for the defendants’ residences at 85th Street in Brooklyn; 161st Street in Jamaica, Queens; and Acre Lane in Hicksville. Law enforcement seized the following from these locations:

– Two 9mm firearms

– One stolen 357 Magnum Revolver

– One 40 caliber firearm

– More than 3 pounds of cocaine

– More than 1 pound of fentanyl

– More than 1.5 pounds of psilocybin mushrooms

– 1,337 Adderall pills

– 797 Oxycodone pills (30 mg)

– 485 Xanax pills

– 334 Methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA) pills

– One car

– More than $67,000 in cash

In addition to the drugs and guns recovered during the raids of residences in Queens, Brooklyn and Nassau County, undercover agents bought cocaine and ecstasy from at least one of the defendants on 40 occasions and purchased five handguns from at least one of the defendants over the course of the investigation conducting by District Attorney Katz’s office and the NYPD’s Queens South Violent Crime Squad.

For detailed info on the defendants, visit www.queensda.org.

SUBSTANTIAL WAGE INCREASES FOR EDUCATORS: New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced that the City of New York has reached a tentative five-plus-year contract agreement with the United Federation of Teachers (UFT). This agreement will cover approximately 120,000 municipal employees, bringing the total workforce under contract to approximately 66 percent.

The tentative agreement is retroactive, beginning on September 14, 2022, and expires on November 28, 2027. It conforms to the economic pattern established by the agreement with District Council (DC) 37 earlier this year, and includes wage increases of three percent for each of the first three years of the contract, 3.25 percent in the fourth year, and 3.50 percent in the fifth year. The agreement also includes a $3,000 lump sum ratification bonus for all UFT members and a first-of-its-kind annual retention payment to be paid in May of each year, beginning with $400 in 2024, $700 in 2025, and $1,000 in 2026 and every year thereafter. These payments will help the city retain its valuable educators, especially those earning lower annual salaries.

The tentative agreement also establishes New York City public schools as the first major school system in the nation to offer an expansive voluntary virtual learning program, ultimately available to all high school students and at least some middle school students. This virtual learning program will give students access to a much broader set of course offerings across the city and the ability to take classes at non-traditional times, like evenings and weekends, and is not a substitute for in-person learning. Additionally, this groundbreaking initiative will allow New York City public schools to expand course offerings to students who don’t currently have access to the full range of accelerated courses, and to reach students for whom traditional in-person schedules don’t work, for example students with full-time jobs. Further, teachers leading virtual classes will have the option of teaching from locations that work best for their class. Virtual classes will be offered through a citywide program as well as through school-based programs.

The tentative agreement must be ratified by UFT’s membership, and would apply to teachers, paraprofessionals, school secretaries, guidance counselors, psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, physical therapists, staff nurses, and supervisors of school security.

The total cost of the tentative UFT agreement through Fiscal Year 2027 will be $6.4 billion, which is funded in the labor reserve in the proposed Fiscal Year 2024 Executive Budget.

In addition to wage increases planned over the next five-plus years, the tentative agreement includes:

  • Annual Retention Payments: UFT members will receive a retention payment of $400 in May of 2024, $700 in May of 2025, and $1,000 in May of 2026 and every May thereafter.
  • Virtual Learning Program: The DOE will offer an expansive voluntary virtual learning program to all high school students and some middle school students. This program will allow for flexible class scheduling, like weeknights and weekends, and the opportunity for educators to teach virtually.

UFT members will receive the following compounded wage increases:

  • September 14, 2022: 3.00%
  • January 18, 2024: 3.00%
  • January 18, 2025: 3.00%
  • September 14, 2025: 3.25%
  • September 14, 2026: 3.50%

SENATE PASSES AAPI CURRICULUM IN SCHOOLS: The New York State Senate yesterday passed legislation to establish Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) history and civic impact curriculum in public schools throughout New York State.

The bill, S.5963A, sponsored by Senator John Liu, follows years of an alarming rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans and subsequent advocacy from students, educators and community advocates who sought to ensure Asian American contributions and experiences were accurately reflected in school curriculum.

The bill requires the Commissioner to establish age-appropriate AANHPI history and civic impact or instruction for school districts. This content will include the history of the diaspora of AANHPI communities; movements and policies that impacted AANHPI communities; contributions to government, the arts, humanities, science and the economic, cultural, social and political development of the United States; structures and historical events that have limited or harmed AANHPI communities; and solidarity between historically marginalized communities, especially as it pertains to the civil rights movement.

 

Advocacy for passage of the companion bill, A6579A, which is in the Education Committee, continues in the State Assembly, led by Assembly Members Grace Lee and Ron Kim.

State Senator John Liu stated, “This is an important step for the Asian American community in New York and for all New Yorkers. Integrating the Asian American experience into the public school curriculum will not only allow Asian American children the chance to finally see themselves reflected accurately in American history, but it is a critical step in dismantling the endless barrage of anti-Asian stereotypes that categorize Asian Americans as either the perpetual foreigners or the seemingly-benign but equally destructive model minority. Thank you to my colleagues in the Senate and to all the families, educators and advocates across the state who continue fighting to make sure our voices are heard, our histories are learned, and our experiences are understood.”

State Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris stated, “It is important for all New Yorkers to understand the history of some of the largest communities in our diverse state and the Asian American Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander community is certainly among them. I’m proud to support this legislation because all New Yorkers should know more about Asian American Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander history and its impact on our state.”

State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky stated, “The significant impact of the Asian American community on American history should be taught in our schools. It is time we create a more well-rounded and inclusive curriculum that better represents everyone who helped build this country and move our society forward. I want to thank my colleague Senator Liu for leading the push to pass this legislation through the Senate.”

State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. stated, “It is important that students get a well-rounded education that includes studying the history and cultures of different groups including Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islanders. I am proud to support this bill, which will make public school curriculum more inclusive and expand the understanding of the important accomplishments of these great people.”

STATE LEGISLATURE PASSES LUNAR NEW YEAR, DIWALI HOLIDAY BILLS: U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens), First Vice Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, issued the statement below following the passage of the Lunar New Year and Diwali holiday bills in the New York State Legislature.

“I applaud the State Legislature for passing the Lunar New Year and Diwali holiday bills, and I am proud of the work that I have done to push these efforts along in my home state. I led the Lunar New Year bill in 2009 when I served in the State Assembly, helping to make Lunar New Year a school holiday in New York City, and for years, I have urged that schools also be closed for Diwali. I have continued that fight in Congress where I’ve authored legislation to create federal holidays for Lunar New Year and Diwali so their importance will be recognized across our country.

“The New York State Legislature’s approval of these two measures is a wonderful reminder and celebration of the great diversity that exists in our state, and underscores how this diversity should be reflected in the holidays observed by our residents.

“As we commemorate this moment, I will continue shepherding my bills through Congress that seek to ensure our federal holidays are days that are important to our communities of color.

“I am excited over the momentum and support that we continue to see for these two celebrations.”

ASSEMBLY PASSES DIWALI HOLIDAY BILL: Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar (D-AD 38) fulfilled the dream of the South Asian community when she passed her historic bill (A.7769) to designate Diwali as a New York City public school holiday. It was the final victory in a fight spanning over two decades for Diwali, one of the holiest days of the year for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, to become a school holiday. The first South Asian woman and first Hindu American elected to New York State Office, Assemblywoman Rajkumar took the mantle of the Diwali school holiday movement. She brought her leadership and vision to the decades-long fight, developing the blueprint for the school holiday dream to become a reality. As the daughter of Indian immigrants, she knew firsthand the deep, cultural impact of this holiday, and the transformative effects of this bill on generations of New Yorkers to come, her office noted.

In October, Assemblywoman Rajkumar announced her plan to pass legislation establishing the Diwali school holiday, hosting a press conference with New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Schools Chancellor David Banks. Over the ensuing months, the Assemblywoman forged a diverse coalition of stakeholders of all backgrounds across the state for a united effort in the push to recognize Diwali as a school holiday. She brought hundreds to rally in Albany, and engaged with all city and state stakeholders to secure unanimous support from New York City Mayor Eric Adams, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, all her Albany colleagues, Schools Chancellor Banks, the United Federation of Teachers, the entire New York City Council, and New Yorkers of every faith and background.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams said, “It is long overdue to say to our Hindu, Sikh, Jain, and Buddhist students and communities that, we see you, we acknowledge you. The inclusiveness of this city is extremely significant and this is our opportunity to say that in a loud way. So I thank you Assemblywoman for your tenacity, your vision, your determination.”

Upon the bill’s passage, the Assemblywoman said on the Assembly floor, “Tonight our legislature says to hundreds of thousands of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, and Jain Americans across the State, ‘We see you. Tonight we say to New Yorkers from India, Guyana, Trinidad, Nepal, and Bangladesh, ‘We recognize you.’ From now on, the largest school jurisdiction in the entire country will recognize the Diwali school holiday. Tonight we proudly say that Diwali is an American holiday—and that the South Asian community is part of the American story.”

As the largest school system in the country, New York City schools’ designation of a Diwali holiday will set an example for districts nationwide.

Diwali is a celebration of light over darkness and good over evil. Originating in South Asia, it is one of the most sacred days of the year for over 200,000 Hindu, Sikh, Jain, and Buddhist New Yorkers. The day is marked by huge celebrations in New York’s South Asian and Indo-Caribbean community, including Richmond Hill in the Assemblywoman’s district. When Diwali falls on a school day, families must choose between sending their children to school and celebrating the day together.

Following passage of her bill, Assemblywoman Rajkumar said, “Nothing can stop a community whose time has come. People said this would be impossible but we made it happen. To everyone who believed in the power of the possible—whether in the legislature, the streets of Queens, or all around the world, this victory is yours.”

Assemblywoman Rajkumar’s colleagues praised her legislative triumph.

Assemblyman Ed Braunstein said, “I would like to commend, congratulate and thank the sponsor [Assemblywoman Rajkumar] for all her hard work on getting this passed. This was an uphill climb from the beginning, but through sheer force of will you’ve brought us to this moment.”

Senator Joseph Addabbo, the bill’s Senate sponsor, said, “I am thankful for my colleagues in the Senate who supported the passage of my bill (S7475) designating Diwali a school holiday in New York City before the Senate legislative session ended. If approved by Governor Hochul, New York’s growing South Asian and Indo-Caribbean communities will now have the same recognition and accommodation afforded to those that observe other holidays. I admire the significance of Diwali, to show how light can overpower darkness, good can overcome evil, a message celebrating positivity and encouragement. It was an honor to once again work side-by-side with my colleague and friend Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar, whose compassion and dedication for her constituents and Diwali is the reason our city will witness this school holiday.”

ADAMS’ STATEMENT ON SEWELL’S SERVICE TO CITY: New York City Mayor Eric Adams released the following statement on New York City Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner Keechant Sewell’s service to the City of New York:

“I want to thank Police Commissioner Sewell for her devotion over the last 18 months and her steadfast leadership. Her efforts played a leading role in this administration’s tireless work to make New York City safer. When we came into office, crime was trending upwards, and thanks to the brave men and women of the NYPD, most of the major crime categories are now down. The commissioner worked nearly 24 hours a day, seven days a week for a year and a half, and we are all grateful for her service. New Yorkers owe her a debt of gratitude.”

BUILD THE BLOCK: The 107th Precinct Sector D (Electchester complex in Flushing) is holding a Build the Block Neighborhood Policing & Safety Meeting on Tuesday, June 27, 7 pm at YIKGH, 70-11 150th Street. For accommodations for any disability, please contact Sergeant Chris Burke at 718-969-6191 or [email protected] at least 72 hours prior to the event.

114TH PCT COMMUNITY COUNCIL MTG: the monthly meeting of the 114th Precinct Community Council will be at Astoria World Manor, 25-22 Astoria Blvd, Astoria on Tuesday, Jun. 27, 7 pm.

ADDABBO’S MOBILE OFFICE HOURS: NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. is holding Mobile Office Hours at the following Queens Public Library branches in his district to listen to constituent/community concerns, and to make his office more accessible to the public. Upcoming dates are: Thurs. June 22, 5:30 pm at North Forest Park; and Thurs. June 29 in at Maspeth.

NYC BAR RATES KATZ ‘APPROVED’: Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz continued to demonstrate powerful momentum for re-election by announcing that she has earned an “Approved” candidate rating from the NYC Bar Association, which includes the Queens Bar Association. The rating comes following a thorough evaluation of qualifications by the Association’s Committee on the Judiciary and serves as an affirmation of the work DA Katz has accomplished during her first term in office.

The Committee uses “Approved” and “Not Approved” ratings. Those determined to be “Approved,” such as DA Katz, have successfully demonstrated possession of key qualifications necessary for the job at hand.

“I want to thank all of the members of the City and Queens Bar Association that take the time to thoroughly evaluate the qualifications of candidates running for positions in the legal field. It is vital to ensure integrity and dedication from candidates seeking these positions and I am most proud of the results my office has delivered for the people of Queens in the last three years. I am honored by this rating,” said Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.

In addition to this important recognition, DA Katz has also been recognized as a Gun Sense Candidate by Moms Demand Action and highlighted endorsements from the United Federation of Teachers (UFT); United Firefighters Association (UFA); 1199 SEIU Healthcare Workers; the International Brothers of Teamsters Sanitation Union Local 831; NYS Court Officers’ Association; Lieutenants Benevolent Association; Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU); numerous elected officials including NYC Mayor Eric Adams and U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, and more.

Supporters note that “Melinda Katz was elected District Attorney in 2019 and inaugurated in 2020. Despite taking office during the most turbulent of times, she’s provided a steady hand as she’s worked to keep Queens families safe. She’s led the effort to take illegal weapons and ghost guns off the streets and held human traffickers and domestic abusers accountable. At the same time, she has launched Queens’ first-ever Conviction Integrity Unit to ensure justice for those wrongfully convicted. DA Katz has taken a community-centered approach to public safety, creating special advisory boards and hosting cultural events so that each of the diverse neighborhoods of this borough is seen and heard.”

LAVENDER LINE DEMS ENDORSE KATZ: Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz has become the sole candidate in the race backed by a slew of LGBTQ+ officials as her campaign announced an endorsement from The Lavender Line Democratic Club of Queens, formerly known as the Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club. Lavender Line President Rod Townsend emphasized the District Attorney’s successful efforts to safeguard the residents of Queens County from deadly weapons and drivers of crime, while dismissing criminal charges based on the harmful, and since repealed, “Walking While Trans” law to provide fairness and equity in the borough.

The Lavender Line Democratic Club of Queens endorsement comes on the heels of an endorsement from The Stonewall Democratic Club of NYC, ten past Stonewall Club presidents: Dirk McCall de Palomá, Bob Zuckerman, Matt Carlin, Joseph Hagelmann, Rose Christ, Brice Peyre, District Leader Melissa Sklarz, Tom Smith, Richard Allman.and Marty Algaze, long-time LGBTQ+ advocate Alfonso Quiroz, former City Councilmember Daniel Dromm, and current City Councilmember Lynn Schulman.

“In just four years, Melinda Katz has kept her promise to take a hard look at the questions facing our criminal justice system and to seek out and implement new, innovative answers. Through some of the most challenging times in the history of Queens, Melinda has used fair and equitable solutions, implementing rehabilitative measures for low-level offenses and dismissing charges rooted in discriminatory practices. She has challenged the entire institution of the DA’s office to address issues specific to the LGBTQ+ community, and gotten results for us. Without hesitation, we endorse her for re-election,” said Rod Townsend, President of the Lavender Line Democratic Club of Queens.

“You cannot achieve public safety without trust from the communities you serve. That is why I have made sure to open the doors of the District Attorney’s Office to all the diverse populations of Queens County. I am proud of the friendships I’ve forged with members of the LGBTQ+ community throughout my career in public service. I will continue to safeguard and support them as the District Attorney. Thank you to Rod Townsend and the Lavender Line Democratic Club of Queens for the endorsement,” said District Attorney Melinda Katz.

PHEFFER AMATO’S ANNUAL SUMMER READING CHALLENGE: Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-South Queens) is inviting students from Ozone Park, Howard Beach and across the Rockaway Peninsula to participate in the New York State Assembly’s annual Summer Reading Challenge, held in partnership with New York State Libraries. The theme for this year’s challenge is “All Together Now” to celebrate kindness and friendship. Those who complete the challenge will be awarded a state Assembly Excellence in Reading certificate to celebrate their achievement.

“Reading is vital for young New Yorkers’ intellectual development and offers them opportunities to become immersed in thrilling narratives, explore different worlds, discover new interests, or learn new skills,” said Assemblywoman Pheffer Amato. “To combat the loss of learning commonly experienced by students over summer break, known as the ‘summer slide,’ it’s vital for children to continue reading over the summer months. The Summer Reading Challenge is the perfect opportunity to inspire kids to regularly read throughout the summer and foster a love of learning within the next generation of leaders.”

Assemblywoman Pheffer Amato’s Summer Reading Challenge has inspired hundreds of children to participate and take up reading throughout the summer vacation. The challenge asks children to read for at least 15 minutes a day, for at least 40 days, during the months of July and August. Children can read by themselves or with a partner or caretaker and then mark the days on the calendar provided. After marking 40 days or more, they can submit the calendar to Assemblywoman Pheffer Amato’s office to receive their certificate.

The Assemblywoman’s office has dropped off summer reading at every school in the 23rd Assembly District. You can also go to a local library to pick up a form, or reach out to Assemblywoman Pheffer Amato at [email protected] or call her office at 718-945-9550.

ELDER PROTECTION FROM SCAMS, ABUSE: CONSUMER ALERT: New York Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection offers guidance to raise awareness & protect against elder abuse. Follow the New York Department of State on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for “Tuesday’s Tips” – practical tips to educate and empower New York consumers on a variety of topics.

Secretary Rodriguez: “Our Division of Consumer Protection wants to help you protect your older adult family members and friends, and these tips will help you spot a scam or abusive situation and stop it before it causes irreparable harm.”

For this week’s Tuesday’s Tips, the New York Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection is offering guidance to help prevent and protect seniors from elder abuse. Financial fraud and exploitation is one of the most prevalent types of elder abuse, and recent estimates show that the annual loss of victims of financial abuse is assessed to be at least $36.5 billion dollars. Follow the New York Department of State on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and check in every Tuesday for more practical tips that educate and empower New York consumers on a variety of topics. Sign up to receive consumer alerts directly to your email or phone here.

“Older adults are a vital part of our families and communities, and unfortunately this beloved population is also often the target of scammers and abusers,” said Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez. “Our Division of Consumer Protection wants to help you protect your older adult family members and friends, and these tips will help you spot a scam or abusive situation and stop it before it causes irreparable harm.”

New York State Office for the Aging Director Greg Olsen said, “Financial scams targeting older adults are becoming all the more prevalent and sophisticated. Always verify with official sources before taking any action that might potentially compromise your private information and offer predators with a window to access your funds or fraudulently make transactions in your name. Family, friends and caregivers have an important role to play as well. Be aware of any changes in a loved one’s financial behavior or banking and spending patterns. Remember that local help is available through offices for the aging and our community partners by calling NY Connects at 1-800-342-9871.”

New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) Acting Commissioner Suzanne Miles-Gustave said, “We thank the Division of Consumer Protection for bringing awareness to this critically important, yet sometimes overlooked, issue. OCFS’ Bureau of Adult Services, along with our statewide local departments of social services, work tirelessly to protect New York’s vulnerable adults from all forms of abuse, which includes violence, neglect and financial exploitation. Social isolation, the aging process and relying on others for their medical needs can increase the likelihood of victimization for seniors. This is about human rights, and it’s essential for families and the community to be aware of the dangers and risks that some of New York’s elder population face and to report any possible instance of abuse.”

June 15 WAs Elder Abuse Awareness Day, and June is also World Elder Abuse Awareness Month, which highlight the ongoing criminal tactics targeting older adults.

Elder abuse occurs when an adult over the age of 60 is abused, neglected or financially exploited by someone. Specifically, it includes physical, sexual, emotional/psychological abuse in addition to financial exploitation, abandonment and neglect. Abuse can happen anywhere, including in an older person’s home, a family member’s home, a nursing home or an assisted living community. Financial abuse occurs when the improper and unauthorized use of an older adult’s money, benefits, belongings, property or assets are illegally used without their permission.

Older adults are also often the targets of consumer fraud scams. Scammers prey on

older adults, who are viewed as vulnerable and lonely, easy prey with readily available cash. Some of the most common older adult scams include:

  • Medical Device Scam: Unsolicited prerecorded messages, known as “robocalls,” offering free medical alert devices by providing an address and credit card information.
  • Grandparent Scam: Scammers call or email asking for money while impersonating a beloved grandchild who is in some kind of trouble.
  • Ghosting Scam: Identity thieves obtain personal information about deceased persons from obituaries, funeral homes, hospitals, stolen death certificates and online web sites and use this information to establish credit and open accounts, take out loans, receive benefits, or even collect tax refunds filed under the stolen identity.
  • Jury Duty Scam: Scammers pretending to be law enforcement officers or court officials contact individuals to inform them that they have failed to report to jury duty and must pay a fine by credit card to avoid an arrest.
  • Funeral Notification Scam: Scammers send emails deceptively informing recipients of an upcoming farewell ceremony in remembrance of a friend or loved one, and upon clicking a link provided in the email, victims are sent to a third-party website where malicious software is downloaded so scammers can gain access to the user’s information.
  • Sweepstakes Scam: Scammers entice consumers with various prize offers and then ask you to share personal information or pay a fee to enter the sweepstakes.
  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Imposter Scam: Phone scammers impersonate IRS agents and demand immediate payment of overdue taxes from victims via debit card or wire transfer to avoid being arrested.
  • Free Grant Scam: Scammers promise fraudulent grants in print or over the phone and ask for bank account and routing numbers.

For more information about how you can recognize the most common senior scams or for more scam prevention tips, download The Division of Consumer Protection’s informative Senior Anti-Fraud Education (S.A.F.E.) brochure. If you have parents or elderly family members, take the time to explain these scams to them.

Here are a few tips to follow if you or someone you know receives a call or email you believe to be a scam:

  • RESIST the urge to act immediately – no matter how dramatic the story is.
  • VERIFY the caller’s identity – ask questions that a stranger couldn’t answer. Check with a family member to see if the information is true.
  • DO NOT send cash, gift cards or money transfers. Once the scammer gets the money – it’s gone!
  • DO NOT give your personal banking account information by email or over the phone OR log into bank accounts as directed by the caller (scammers can steal your information using screen mirroring).

During World Elder Abuse Month, the Division of Consumer Protection is also urging New Yorkers to make a plan to help protect senior family members and friends from financial abuse, given its prevalence. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a guide to preventing elder financial abuse with four important steps:

  • Prevent – Educate yourself, your loved ones, and your community.
  • Recognize – Spot the warning signs and take action.
  • Record – Document what you observe.
  • Report – Tell the appropriate authorities so they can investigate and help.

There are resources to help if you are concerned about an individual, friend or loved one who may be experiencing elder abuse, including the non-emergency helpline at (844) 746-6905 and the Adult Protective Services hotline at 1-844-697-3505 to report abuse.

About the New York State Division of Consumer Protection

The New York State Division of Consumer Protection provides resources and education materials to consumers on product safety, as well as voluntary mediation services between consumers and businesses. The Consumer Assistance Helpline 1-800-697-1220 is available Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm, excluding State Holidays, and consumer complaints can be filed at any time at www.dos.ny.gov/consumer-protection.

For more consumer protection tips, follow the Division on social media at Twitter: @NYSConsumer and Facebook: www.facebook.com/nysconsumer.

CRACKDOWN ON DEALERS PARKING ON SIDEWALKS: Councilmembers Sandra Ung and Francisco Moya introduced legislation in the City Council at the recent Stated Meeting that would make it illegal for car dealerships to park vehicles on public streets to advertise them for sale, or while vehicles are awaiting repair or return to their owner. The legislation would also make it illegal to repair cars on city streets.

“Parking spots on public streets are not intended to be used as storage to benefit for-profit car dealers,” said Councilmember Sandra Ung. “We know that parking is at a premium in neighborhoods across New York City. The public parking we do have is meant to be used by city residents, not as overflow space for car dealership to make repairs or advertise their cars to prospective buyers.”

“In a city where parking is already an issue, it is unfair for car dealers to take all neighborhood street parking spaces and turn them into parking lots,” said Council Member Francisco Moya. “This bill will prevent these businesses from taking residential areas spots that are meant for our neighbors.”

The offices of both Councilmember Ung and Moya have received numerous complaints from constituents regarding dealers parking cars on city streets. Some dealers pose as private owners so they can park a car on a city street to advertise it for sale, a practice known as “curbstoning.”

The councilmembers’ legislation would require a dealer to display a placard visible through the front windshield that includes the name, address, license number, and contact information for the dealer. Every day a vehicle is parked illegally on a city street will be considered a separate violation.

Illegally parked vehicles may be impounded per guidelines created by the city agency tasked with enforcing the law, and a vehicle will not be released until towing and storage fees are paid. If the owner of the vehicle pays to have the car released, they have the legal right to recoup the money from the dealer who was in possession of the car.

POLICE UNIONS ENDORSE COUNCIL MEMBER LEE: Councilwoman Linda Lee has been endorsed by the Detectives Endowment Association, Lieutenants Benevolent Association, Captains Endowment Association & Sergeants Benevolent Association. “I am honored to have the support of the Detectives Endowment Association, Lieutenants Benevolent Association, Captains Endowment Association, Sergeants Benevolent Association, a coalition of police unions. More than ever we need people in city government who will prioritize public safety and vote to give more resources and support to law enforcement – not less. I look forward to working with our brave officers to make sure we can build a city that is safe for all of us,” said Councilwoman Lee.

DEPUTY LEADER GIANARIS ANNOUNCES SENATE PASSES NYCHA UTILITY ACCOUNTABILITY ACT: Gianaris Legislation Prompted by Three-Month Long Gas Outages Experienced by Western Queens NYCHA Tenants.  Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris announced the Senate passed his NYCHA Utility Accountability Act (S.546/A.2573) which pro-rates rent for NYCHA tenants who experience long-term water, gas, electric, and heat outages. The legislation was prompted by a three-month long gas outage experienced by tenants at Astoria Houses.

“Months-long utility outages are unacceptable for any New Yorker, whether in private or public housing,” said Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris. “NYCHA residents should not be expected to pay full rent, which typically includes utilities, when they are not receiving the service. My proposal would ensure we treat all our neighbors with respect and create financial urgency for NYCHA to make needed repairs on a faster timeline. I am pleased the Senate passed this legislation.”

Assembly Member Khaleel Anderson, who sponsors the bill in the State Assembly, said, “The NYCHA Utility Accountability Act has now officially passed the Senate, championed by my colleague Senator Michael Gianaris. I commend the Deputy Majority Leader for his work and commitment to public housing residents. NYCHA families deserve reliable utility services and we, elected officials, must hold the agency to that high standard. I will continue to urge my colleagues in the State Assembly to pass the NYCHA Utility Accountability Act before the end of the session.”

Senator Gianaris’ NYCHA Utility Accountability Act would reduce a tenant’s rent obligation in an amount prorated per day of utility outage by the greater of 10% of the tenant’s actual rent or $75 per month. Affected utilities include gas, heat, water, and electric service. In addition to providing relief for impacted tenants, this legislation would provide a financial incentive to fix service more quickly.

Senator Gianaris has been a longtime advocate of improving quality of life for NYCHA tenants. He has secured major funding for a job-training program for NYCHA residents through a partnership with LaGuardia Community College and Urban Upbound. When NYCHA failed to successfully test for lead in Queensbridge Houses, Senator Gianaris went in and performed tests himself and pushed for faster lead testing in these developments.

Tammy Reyes, Acting President of the Woodside Houses Tenants Association said, “NYCHA tenants pay rent and deserve high-quality housing, like every other New Yorker. I thank Senator Gianaris for fighting for the NYCHA Utility Accountability Act and all our Woodside Houses tenants. I feel that everyone of us NYCHA tenants deserve to have hot water, hot and cold clean running water, working gas, as well as electricality. majority of the residents pay their rent on time and should be able to be treated with the same respect that we give the NYCHA department when we pay our rent on time. I am a retired NYCHA employee, a resident association executive board member, but I am a tenant whom experienced living in my NYCHA apartment in which I had to live close to one year with NO GAS to cook food for my family, we had to order fast food to eat most days for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, for at least the first four months before we was offered a hot plate. No disrespect to anyone, but how can I really be expecting me to cook meals for my family on one hot plate. I still continued to pay my rent every month, even though I still had no gas to cook with, but then when I tried to hold the rent from being paid until my gas get fix and working so that I would be able to cook a decent hot meal for my family, I received a dispossess for nonpayment of rent, so of cause I paid my rent afraid of being evicted (homeless) with my family. We suffered for many months when I finally got my gas on after almost a year and had never received any compensation for the loss of my gas (after no gas for just about a yearlong).  So I want to thank Senator Micheal Gianaris for fighting for the NYCHA Utility Accountability Act and all our Woodside Houses tenants thank you as well”

MENG REINTRODUCES BIPARTISAN LEGISLATION TO HELP COMBAT EXCESSIVE AIRCRAFT NOISE OVER QUEENS: Quiet Communities Act, a measure to help combat aircraft noise over Queens and other impacted areas around the country. The bill would require that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) take over efforts to mitigate aircraft noise over communities near airports, taking over this responsibility from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The EPA’s office of Nosie Abatement and Control (ONAC) was defunded in 1981 by the Regan Administration due to budget cuts, however, the Quiet Communities Act would reopen this office.“Being unable to sleep or get peace of mind throughout the day is a quality-of-life issue that nobody in Queens or around the country should be forced to endure on a daily and nightly basis,” said Congresswoman Meng. “For years, constituents have been calling our office to ask that something be done about this excessive airplane noise. The Quiet Communities Act would address these problems by reopening the Nosie abatement and Control office, allowing the EPA to oversee the issue of airplane noise. By allowing the EPA to head up the airplane noise battle, it ensures that the federal government addresses this issue from an environmental perspective.”Although airplane noise has long existed over Queens due to the proximity of New York’s airports, the increased sounds of jets significantly increased in 2012 when the FAA implemented new flight patterns over the borough. These new routes, which are for airplanes departing LaGuardia, have increased the frequency of flights over residential neighborhoods in Queens, and the substantial rise in aircraft noise has negatively impacted borough residents.A recent New York Times article reported that consistent exposure to chronic noise poses health risks that in some extreme cases can increase the risk of hypertension, strokes, and heart attacks.

CITY OF NEW YORK DEEMS MEDICARE ADVANTAGE CONTRACT REGISTERED: OLR Has Informed City Comptroller He Had No Statutory Basis for Declining to Register Medicare Advantage Contract Last Week

The New York City Office of Labor Relations, under the Adams administration, today announced that it has deemed the Medicare Advantage contract registered, allowing implementation of the plan to move forward effective September 1st of this year. This step was taken after the two agencies informed the New York City Comptroller’s Office that they did not have any statutory basis for declining to register the contract, as required under the City Charter, and because failing to register the contract only increases confusion and misinformation among retirees regarding Medicare Advantage.

“As we’ve said repeatedly, this Medicare Advantage plan improves retirees’ current plans, including offering a lower deductible, a cap on out-of-pocket expenses, and new benefits, like transportation, fitness programs, and wellness incentives,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “We are clearly within our authority under the charter to deem this contract registered, and we look forward to working with Aetna to ensure a smooth transition to the plan for our city’s eligible retirees and their dependents come September 1st.”

The city’s Aetna Medicare Advantage plan will provide a lower deductible for retirees than their current Senior Care plan. The plan also places a cap on out-of-pocket expenses and offers new benefits to retirees, including transportation to certain doctors’ appointments, fitness programs, and wellness incentives. Additionally, the plan significantly limits the number of procedures requiring prior authorization.

The city is working with Aetna to ease the transition to the new plan and answer any questions from eligible retirees. Aetna has built a custom website specifically for City of New York retirees. The website has resources for retirees to look up their doctor, find out detailed information about their plan, and register for online and in-person information sessions. Retirees can also contact Aetna’s dedicated call center at 855-648-0389 (TTY: 711), Monday to Friday, from 8:00 AM to 9:00 PM. Additionally, Aetna has held a series of in-person town hall meetings in the New York metro area and other states with high Medicare-eligible retiree populations to answer retirees’ questions and assist them with the transition.

ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROZIC AND SENATOR LIU ANNOUNCE PASSAGE OF SNAP EBT SKIMMING LEGISLATION: Bill Provides Warning to Consumers, Aims to Protect Constituents from Stolen SNAP Benefits  

Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D,WF-Fresh Meadows) and State Senator John Liu (D-Queens) were joined by community organizations, the 111th Precinct, and constituents to announce their legislation that has passed with bipartisan support. The legislation would require local businesses to post consumer warnings of potential skimming of SNAP EBT cards (A4023/S6088). The bill now awaits Governor Kathy Hochul’s approval.

“Skimming of SNAP EBT cards has been a consistent issue in our communities,” said Assemblywoman Nily Rozic. “With this new law, everyone will feel safer shopping and using their SNAP EBT card.”

State Senator John Liu said, “Skimming and phishing scams target everyone regardless of income or background, even those low-income New Yorkers in need of extra support just to put food on the table. The best way to combat these despicable acts is by making sure the public is informed about how to protect themselves and what resources are available to them should they fall victim. The prevalence of EBT card skimming shows that we need to do more to protect personal data at the point of sale. Thank you to Assemblywoman Rozic for championing this legislation in the Assembly, and we call on Governor Hochul to sign this important public notice into law so that all New Yorkers can be appropriately armed with the information they need to keep themselves safe.”

Mohini Mishra, VP Senior Communities, Selfhelp Community Services said “Selfhelp Community Services thanks Assemblywoman Nily Rozic and State Senator John Liu for their legislation that will address occurrences of SNAP/EBT skimming by requiring notices to be posted publicly about this fraud. We know that older adults can become victims of this common scam and are supportive of any measures to reduce financial crimes. We look forward to continuing to work together to protect our older community members and help people live with dignity.”

“At AAFE’s offices in Queens and Manhattan, we hear from a growing number of community members who have unfortunately been victimized by EBT card scams,” said Thomas Yu, Executive Director of Asian Americans for Equality. “So we are grateful to Senator Liu and Assemblywoman Rozic for championing this common sense legislation. We look forward to working with our partners in government and the nonprofit sector to raise awareness about this issue and put a stop to EBT card skimming.”

The legislators added, consumer warnings are an essential preventative measure. This legislation is just one part of the legislators’ efforts to aid impacted constituents. Other measures have included refunds of lost funds.

CANDIDATES NIGHT: Wednesday, June 21, 2023 7:30 p.m. at Pistilli Grand Manor 45-02 Ditmars Blvd. Please enter on 45th Street side entrance, right before the parking garage .CANDIDATES: Please Note: ALL candidates from the Democratic and Republican parties were invited. Below are the candidates that have confirmed as of the time of printing. The Candidates will be presenting their platforms, and attendees will have an opportunity to ask questions.

Candidates for Queens County District Attorney: Devian Daniels, George Grasso, Melinda Katz

Candidates for New York City Council, District 22: Charles Castro Kelly Klingman

Kindly bring your questions and concerns. Please share on all your social media.

Join us, and tell all your neighbors and friends. All are welcome! Astoria Homeowners, Tenants & Business Civic Association, 21-20 49th St., Astoria, NY 11105 (718) 721-3690 Facebook: Astoria Homeowners, Tenants & Business Civic Association Instagram: AstoriaHTBCA Email: [email protected] Website: www.betterastoria.com

ATTORNEY GENERAL JAMES ANNOUNCES ELECTION PROTECTION HOTLINE AHEAD OF JUNE PRIMARY: OAG Will Troubleshoot Voting Issues during Early Voting and on Election Day. Voters Experiencing Problems Can Call (866) 390-2992

New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced that the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) will make its Election Protection Hotline available for the upcoming June 27, 2023 election and during New York’s early voting period, which runs from Saturday, June 17 through Sunday, June 25. The hotline will be available to troubleshoot and resolve a range of issues encountered by voters, including voting by absentee ballot or in person at their polling place. Voters that experience problems can report issues to OAG by calling the hotline at (866) 390-2992 or submitting complaints online. The OAG has also created a guide addressing frequently asked questions to assist voters.

“The right to vote is paramount to the integrity of our democracy,” said Attorney General James. “Our election protection hotline is a key resource available to alI New Yorkers throughout our great state to provide helpful guidance and address concerns. Whether they are voting by mail, stopping by an early voting site, or casting their ballot in-person at the polls, my office will ensure that New Yorkers can securely and effectively participate in our electoral process.”

Voters who have concerns or are experiencing problems are encouraged to call OAG’s hotline at (866) 390-2992 or submit complaints online to request election-related assistance in advance of the election. Written requests may be submitted at any time through the online complaint form. Hotline calls and online complaints or requests for election-related assistance are processed by OAG attorneys and staff.

The telephone hotline will be open between 9:00 AM and 6:00 PM on Saturday, June 17 through Sunday, June 25, and between 6:00 AM and 9:00 PM on Election Day, Tuesday, June 27. The hotline will also be open following the election, between 9:00 AM and 6:00 PM on both Wednesday, June 28 and Thursday, June 29.

The OAG has operated its Election Protection Hotline since November 2012. During previous elections, OAG fielded hundreds — and sometimes thousands — of complaints from voters across the state and worked with local election officials and others to address issues. The OAG has also taken legal action to protect against voter registration purges and to ensure that voters have adequate and equitable access to vote early as required by law.

All registered voters have the right to accessible elections. Polls are required to be open from 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM on Election Day, and if voters are in line before closing, they must be allowed to vote. In addition, all registered voters have the right to vote free from coercion or intimidation, whether by election officials or any other person.

The OAG will receive and respond to election complaints relating to any of the statutes that OAG enforces. The OAG’s Election Day Hotline is coordinated and led by Voting Rights Section Chief Lindsay McKenzie and Assistant Attorneys General Nancy Trasande and Teddy Fenster, and Deputy Bureau Chief Travis England of the Civil Rights Bureau. The Civil Rights Bureau is a part of the Division for Social Justice, which is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General Meghan Faux and overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.

MAN CHARGED WITH RAPE AT JAMAICA STORAGE FACILITY: Faces Up to 25 Years to Life in Prison.

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced that Charles Rowe was arraigned for allegedly raping a 69-year-old woman, attacking another woman, and committing other crimes including robbery and burglary at a Jamaica storage facility. District Attorney Katz said: “We allege this man is a stone-cold predator who subjected two women to horrific violence and damaged and stole from a local business. He will be held to account.” Rowe, 56, of West 110th Street, was indicted by a grand jury and arraigned today on charges of predatory sexual assault, rape in the first degree, criminal sexual act in the first degree, sexual abuse in the first degree, burglary in the third degree, petit larceny, robbery in the first and second degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree. Queens Supreme Justice Michael Yavinsky ordered Rowe to return to court on July 18. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years to life in prison. According to the charges: -On the evening of March 13, Rowe grabbed a woman as she was leaving her storage unit at 168-11 Douglas Avenue, held a knife to her and threated to kill her. He pulled her into a bathroom at the storage facility, sexually abused her and raped her before fleeing. The victim was taken to the hospital where a sexual assault evidence kit was administered. -On April 25, Rowe returned to the same storage facility late in the evening and entered a woman’s storage unit where he began rifling through her property. When the 61-year-old woman objected, Rowe said, “Let’s not turn this into a murder.” She struggled with Rowe, who had a metal object in his hand that he used to slash her neck and chest. He punched the woman and threatened to kill her if she told anyone. Rowe fled with property belonging to the woman. She was taken to a local hospital for treatment. -Several hours later, in the early morning hours of April 26, video surveillance footage showed Rowe at the same storage facility prying open a door and removing it from its hinges. He was seen on the video leaving the location with a shopping cart that he did not have when he entered. -On May 6, DNA evidence in the sexual offense evidence kit collected from the victim of the March 13 incident was matched to a DNA profile of Rowe. He was arrested May 13. Senior Assistant District Attorney George Kanellopoulos, of the District Attorney’s Special Victims Bureau, is prosecuting the case under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Eric C. Rosenbaum, Bureau Chief, Debra Lynn Pomodore and Brian C. Hughes, Deputy Bureau Chiefs, and under the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney for the Special Prosecutions Division Joyce Smith. Criminal complaints and indictments are accusations. A defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

GILLIBRAND ANNOUNCES FUNDING FOR AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE PROGRAM: Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced $498,435 in federal funding for three New York cultural institutions from the Museum Grants for African American History and Culture (AAHC) Program. The funding was allocated through the Institute of Museum and Library Services and will be used to build the capacity of African American museums, support the growth and development of museum professionals at African American museums and bolster community-based programming. The AAHC program supports projects that nurture museum professionals, build institutional capacity, and increase access to museum and archival collections at African American museums and Historically Black Colleges and Universities.“This funding will ensure that New Yorkers have access to cultural resources and community-based programs supported by these institutions that celebrate African American history,” said Senator Gillibrand. “These programs are an investment in our future that will also preserve our state’s culturally rich past. I am proud to have advocated for this funding.”

The Louis Armstrong House Museum Has an award amount of approximately $300,000 to build staff capacity to activate the Armstrong Center. Staff will develop a plan focused on reaching the local community. Staff, jazz artists and historians, and neighbors will create a tour presented in English and Spanish.

104TH PRECINCT SCAM WARNING HITS ROOF: The 104th Precinct would like to make you aware of what is most likely a scam.  We have received information regarding a roofing scam.  If a male rings your doorbell or knocks on your door stating that your roof is damaged and he can repair it, be aware it is a scam.  Some of the things they will say are, “You have loose bricks” or “you may have water damage on the roof” “I do commercial roofing, but I can do your house”.  They will say they can repair it in a day and ask to be paid in cash.  Do not agree to have any work done or allow them to go on your roof.  Please share this information with your family, friends and neighbors.

GOVERNOR HOCHUL ANNOUNCES $150 MILLION JAMAICA HOSPITAL EXPANSION: Project Will Create New Level 1 Trauma Center, Two New Critical Care Units with 22 ICU Beds Funding Awarded Through the Statewide Health Care Facility Transformation Program IV

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the groundbreaking of the $150 million Jamaica Hospital Emergency Department expansion and modernization project. The project will build a new state-of-the-art emergency department, creating the only Level 1 trauma center in the area and adding two new critical care units with 22 new ICU beds. The funding was awarded through the Statewide Health Care Facility Transformation Program IV. Governor Hochul made the announcement at a groundbreaking ceremony this morning alongside Jamaica Hospital leadership, elected officials and local community leaders.

“For too long, underserved communities like the ones Jamaica Hospital tends to were neglected, and the State failed to deliver the resources and support they need,” Governor Hochul said. “As Governor, my administration is committed to righting the wrongs of the past, prioritizing health equity and working to strengthen health care systems across the state. Thanks to a $150 million State investment, the new state-of-the-art facility will help dramatically improve emergency care in this community and provide Jamaica residents the top-rate care they deserve.”

The original Jamaica Hospital Emergency Department was designed to handle 60,000 patients annually, however currently serves closer to 120,000 patients per year, not factoring in the increased visits it experienced at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. After almost a decade of planning, the expansion and modernization project was able to move forward after Jamaica Hospital was awarded $150 million through Statewide IV. The project will construct a new 48,534 square foot facility on an adjacent property now being used as a parking lot for physicians.

Among the 13 Level 1 Trauma Centers in New York City, this project will enable Jamaica Hospital to build an expanded and modernized emergency department to adequately meet the community’s needs.

New York State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said, “I want to thank Governor Hochul for her support of the Jamaica Hospital Emergency Department expansion project and her strong commitment to underserved communities. This project is a prime example of putting resources behind our mission at the State Health Department, which includes eliminating health disparities, improving emergency care and expanding overall access to quality health care.”

Representative Gregory Meeks said, “This is a huge win for health care providers and especially for Jamaica residents. Life-saving equipment and technology will be accessible for doctors, nurses and other first responders to deliver vital health care services to some of our most vulnerable populations. This cutting-edge emergency department is a welcomed addition to our community, and I commend the Hochul Administration for securing the funding to make it a reality.”

State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. said, “Today was a historic day for Jamaica Hospital as they broke ground on a state-of-the-art new emergency room. Now this institution can provide even better-quality healthcare and services for the community. I have always appreciated the great work conducted by Jamaica Hospital and its staff, and I was proud to be able to attend the ceremony and celebrate with them. I have witnessed hospitals close and health facilities regress, but not Jamaica Hospiital. It has always found a way to progress and expand in an effort to assist those in need. I want to thank Governor Kathy Hochul for allocating the funds to make this advancement possible and to my fellow local representatives in government for their collective support.”

Assemblymember David Weprin said, “As the Chair of the Assembly Committee on Insurance, I’ve advocated for increased funding for safety net hospitals like Jamaica Hospital Medical Center. This $150 million investment will go a long way towards serving the Queens community. The COVID19 pandemic demonstrated just how essential our healthcare heroes are, and they should be working in a state-of-the-art facility. The expansion and renovation of the Emergency and Trauma departments will improve healthcare equity in my district. I’m grateful to Governor Hochul for her leadership and direction in bringing necessary advancements to improve the lives and healthcare outcomes of so many Queens residents.”

Councilmember Lynn Schulman said, “COVID-19 was the biggest healthcare crisis of our lifetimes, and Queens was the epicenter of the virus because of a lack of hospital capacity. As a long-time advocate of increased hospital capacity, today’s $150 million grant from the State to build a new Emergency Department at Jamaica Hospital is long overdue and much appreciated, said Lynn Schulman, Council Member and Chair of the NYC Council Health Committee. Thank you to Governor Hochul for your leadership in ensuring every day New Yorkers have access to emergency medical care when they need it.”

Councilmember Joann Ariola said, “Jamaica Hospital is a premier trauma center, and the only trauma center in the Southeast Queens area near JFK airport. Their emergency department has been steadily growing over-utilized – a problem made even worse by a number of hospital closures in the area in recent years. The expansions and upgrades that this project will provide are desperately needed and will go a long way towards improving the quality of care that Queens residents receive. As someone who has worked very closely with Jamaica Hospital in the past, I have seen first-hand how hard the staff there works, and with these new amenities at their disposal I am confident that we will be seeing even greater things from these dedicated professionals – great things which will lead to a brighter future for everyone in the borough and beyond.”

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said, “This historic $150 million investment is nothing short of monumental for Southeast Queens and The World’s Borough as a whole. Not only will this funding build a new, state-of-the-art emergency department at Jamaica Hospital that will better serve families that rely on the medical center for critical care, it will save lives, help reverse decades of disparities and tell Southeast Queens residents that they matter,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “We couldn’t be more grateful to Governor Hochul for her commitment to Jamaica Hospital, its healthcare heroes who serve with selflessness and the families of Southeast Queens. We’re one massive step closer to true equity in our healthcare system.”

Jamaica Hospital President and CEO Bruce J. Flanz said, “We thank Governor Hochul for supporting and investing in New York Hospitals. Her commitment to building a strong and equitable healthcare system will undoubtedly help our organization and others to provide the highest quality care to the communities we serve.”

The Statewide Health Care Facility Transformation Program is aimed at supporting efforts to reduce health care costs and improve the health outcomes of New Yorkers by expanding access to inpatient, primary, preventative, and other ambulatory care services as part of regionally integrated health care delivery systems. These awards are also focused on projects which will help ensure the financial sustainability of safety net health care providers, and the preservation or expansion of essential health care services. Statewide IV was established in the FY2023 Budget and authorized up to $200 million for emergency department modernizations of regional significance.

Strong Memorial Hospital, the safety-net hospital for the Finger Lakes’ most vulnerable residents, was awarded $50 million from Statewide IV. The 55,000-square-foot facility receives more than 100,000 emergency department visitors annually. The expansion project will roughly triple the size of the emergency department, thereby improve health equity in the Finger Lakes region. The expansion will help to ease overcrowding situations and reduce wait times for admission to hospital.

To receive funding, hospitals needed to demonstrate how the proposed project will strengthen and protect continued access to health care services in communities.

Only Level 1 Trauma Centers serving a high percentage of Medicaid patients were eligible to apply. Level 1 Trauma Centers provide the highest level of trauma care to critically ill or injured patients.

The Department of Health will award another $950 million through additional phases of Statewide IV. The FY 2024 Budget also includes $1 billion in additional funding to establish Statewide V.

MAYOR ADAMS ENDS 90-DAY RULE FOR RENTAL ASSISTANCE: Emergency Rule Change to CityFHEPS Housing Voucher Program Will Expand Eligibility for Both Families and Single Adults, Helping Even More New Yorkers in Shelter Access Permanent Housing More Quickly Adams Administration Has Connected Record Number of Households to CityFHEPS This Year, Increased Placements From Shelter Into Permanent Housing 20 Percent Year-Over-Year

New York City Mayor Eric Adams today issued emergency rules eliminating the 90-day length-of-stay requirement for New Yorkers in shelter to be eligible for City Family Homelessness and Eviction Prevention Supplement (CityFHEPS) housing vouchers — the largest city-funded rental assistance program in the nation — vastly expanding the number of New Yorkers in shelter who will now be able to access city-funded rental assistance. Effective immediately, families as well as individuals in shelter will have expanded access to city-funded rental assistance and expedited connections to permanent housing. With New York City continuing to manage the unprecedented asylum seeker crisis largely on its own, this emergency rule will build on progress to quickly move New Yorkers out of shelter and into permanent housing.

“Today, we’re taking our efforts to house more New Yorkers to the next level — building on our work expanding voucher eligibility, cutting red tape, and reducing bureaucracy that we’ve focused on since day one,” said Mayor Adams. “By removing the 90-day length of stay requirement for our CityFHEPS rental assistance program for individuals and families in shelter, we’ll help more people exit shelter for permanent housing faster. To really build the housing New Yorkers need, the state Legislature must pass a 421-a replacement, allow more office conversions, and lift the cap on housing in Midtown Manhattan. We’ll continue to advocate for those changes and use every tool available to move New Yorkers into homes.”

The announcement builds on last year’s robust package of CityFHEPS reforms Mayor Adams implemented to help New Yorkers exit the shelter system and move more quickly into permanent affordable housing. The New York City Department of Social Services (DSS) has also made numerous technology, staffing, process, and training improvements over the past year to expedite shelter move-outs. These improvements have resulted in an overall increase in exits from shelter to permanent housing across all shelter populations during the first four months of Fiscal Year 2023, with the largest increase in placements moving New Yorkers into subsidized housing and contributing to a more than 40 percent increase in placements for single adults residing in shelter.

QCH REGO PARK OLDER ADULT CENTER CELEBRATES 45 YEARS OF SERVING THE COMMUNITY: On June 15, Queens Community House, one of the borough’s largest social service organizations, hosted the 45th Anniversary of its Rego Park Older Adult Center being in operation for Queens neighbors. The festivities were held at QCH’s Rego Park Older Adult Center (97-30 Queens Blvd). Close to 300 people were in attendance for this event to enjoy live music, lunch, entertainment, gifts, and socializing. NYS Senator Joseph Addabbo, Jr. also attended the event and honored QCH Rego Park Older Adult Center with a recognition award.”For 45 years, QCH’s Rego Park Older Adult Center has provided a culturally-rich environment where older adults can engage with their peers, make new friends, enjoy a hot meal, keep physically active, learn new skills, and explore new interests,” said Elana Tsibulevskiy, QCH Director of the Rego Park Older Adult Center. “Reaching this milestone of longevity speaks to how important a space like this is for older adults in the community.”

“I was so delighted to see so many Queens residents in the neighborhood who were visiting the Center for the first time,” said Maya Yankelevich, Program Officer of the NYC Department for the Aging. “A big community celebration for a major milestone created intrigue in the neighborhood, and when they stopped by, they were able to learn more about all of the activities and services that could benefit them as well.”

Robert Schaeffer, who served as the Program Director of QCH’s Rego Park Older Adult Center from 1997 to 2001, was also in attendance for this event. “The diversity of the participants and neighbors together for this celebration showed that the Center continues in its primary mission of improving the quality of life for the residents of this neighborhood, and that has never changed,” said Schaeffer.

SCHUMER: DIRE DRUG SHORTAGE IS HITTING NEW YORK & NATION: Schumer Says Critical Cancer Drugs & Common Generics For Asthma, Antibiotics and More Are In Such Short Supply That A Crisis Is On Horizon Unless FDA and Congress Can Stem Tide  Senator Announces Push To Maximize Cancer Drug Imports From Other Countries, Expedite FDA Safety & Quality Reviews & To Assess Nation’s Drug Supply Chain To Locate Potential Surplus; Says Legislation Is Coming To ONCE & FOR ALL Fix Problem.

Schumer: Dire Drug Shortage Could Soon Start To Delay Treatments Across NY & Nation Unless FDA Acts & Congress Passes Legislation

Detailing a cancer drug shortage and an even larger generic drug shortage across-the-board, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer said New York and the nation need action. Schumer said over 295 critical drugs from cancer drugs to everyday generics needed to treat asthma and infections are in such short supply that a crisis is on the horizon unless the FDA can help stem the immediate tide—and, more importantly, Congress can pass legislation. Schumer called on the FDA to activate a plan to limit the worst shortages right now while he called for a 4-point legislative solution. Schumer announced legislation is coming as he detailed the framework for this plan. Schumer said we cannot have any delay in treatments for patients who need them as he made the case for swift FDA and Congressional action.“There is no doubt about it: doctors are on the verge of panic because some of the most critically-needed cancer drugs are in short supply, and patients are also getting worried,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “Moreover, common generics, the drugs used to treat asthma, and antibiotics used to treat infections, these, too, are in short supply. This problem is systemic, continuous and demanding of Congressional action. Today, I am announcing a push to activate the FDA to ameliorate the most urgent shortages and detailing the framework of federal legislation that will be needed to solve this problem for good.” Schumer, today, said that drug shortages of cancer drugs and common, generic prescription drugs are approaching record levels. Drug shortages increased 30 percent from 2021 to 2022, and there was a shortage of 295 drugs by the end of 2022. Shortages include both hospital-based and pharmacy-based drugs. Recent examples include shortages of numerous cancer drugs, ADHD medicine, anesthetics used during surgery, albuterol inhalers for asthma, amoxicillin, saline and much more.

Insufficient Manufacturing: There are not enough manufacturers and supply-chain security. American generic drug manufacturing facilities are only operating at 51 percent capacity, and 40 percent of drugs have a single manufacturer supplying the market. Schumer said that even minor supply chain interruptions, failed FDA safety checks or production issues can upend entire drug markets and threaten drug availability.

Lack of Transparency: Neither the FDA nor industry has end-to-end visibility of the full generic drug supply chain – including raw materials, component manufacturers, finished dosages and purchasers – thereby obscuring the scope and drivers of drug shortages. Purchasing organizations are also not required to report certain critical data, such as increasing demand. This opacity limits the government’s ability to proactively identify and mitigate future drug shortages.

Reliance on Foreign Companies: Between 2010 and 2015, the number of generic import drug ingredient manufacturers registered with the FDA more than doubled. A recent study found that 90 – 95 percent of generic sterile injectable drugs in the U.S. rely on key starting materials from China and India. Further, it is harder for the United States to demand high-quality safety standards in overseas manufacturing plants.

Schumer’s 4-point legislative plan will craft legislation based on the following goals:

First, giving more transparency and insight into drug shortages. The administration, doctors, hospitals and patients need to know when a shortage is coming, when demand is outpacing supply, where companies are sourcing their raw materials from, when there are safety issues and more. More information means more opportunities to fix vulnerabilities before they become problems.

Second, making sure there are enough manufacturers producing drugs at enough volume to have reserve and contingency supplies.

Third, improving production safety and quality. Numerous shortages are caused by safety and quality control problems at manufacturing plants, and improving safety and quality standards would help avoid those problems in the first place.

Fourth, incentivizing domestic manufacturing and onshoring. It creates a series of vulnerabilities and problems when the country’s generic drug market is so reliant on foreign actors, and bringing that supply chain back to the United States will reduce shortages and create good-paying new jobs for Americans.

“It is unimaginable that in a place like the United States, a person with cancer may be told we are short on the drug that may save your life. That is why I am calling on the FDA to do everything in its power to mitigate this shortage. In the immediate, that means maximize safe importation from other countries, get manufacturing plants up to full speed as soon as possible and have teams out there ready to do expedited safety and quality reviews. Finally, maximize the limited supply we already have. If the expiration date can be safely pushed back a little bit for a product, let’s do that. If one hospital or region has a surplus, let’s get that reported and get those drugs re-routed to a hospital that has a shortage,” Schumer added.

“The bottom-line here is that the drug shortage panic is a complex problem, but one thing is very clear – our current system is broken and it is time for Congress to step in to fix it. Both sides of the aisle must work to make the necessary systemic reforms that only Congress can make, and stop this epidemic of drug shortages on behalf of New Yorkers and all Americans,” Schumer said. According to NPR, last month, the Society for Gynecologic Oncology issued recommendations for doctors treating gynecological cancers, advising them on how to manage use of limited drugs if supply runs lower. Patients with early-stage, high-risk disease should be top priority, they said. They also recommended using minimum doses, scraping drops from multiple vials, and stretching time between treatments to make it last. “We are on the verge of a crisis,” Schumer said. “There are examples like this across the country. Doctors are starting to panic, and we have to get ahead of it now.”

 Statement from Western Queens Elected Officials Standing in Opposition to Far-Right Event in Long Island City: Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris, State Senator Kristen Gonzalez, Assembly Members Zohran Mamdani and Jessica González-Rojas, and City Council Members Julie Won and Tiffany Cabán issued the following statement in response to Motif Studios agreeing to host a far-right extremist event on June 17th at Tammany House in Long Island City.

“As elected officials representing western Queens, we are deeply disappointed by the decision by Motif Studios to host an event by the far-right extremist groups Blexit and Turning Point USA at their Triplex LIC/Tammany House venue in Long Island City. Providing a platform for the kind of transphobic, bigoted views held by invited speakers Candace Owens, Charlie Kirk, and others goes directly against the diversity and inclusivity that we hold dear as New Yorkers, and is an insult to every member of our community.

“We call on Motif Studios to follow the lead of the Music Hall of Williamsburg, the original host of this event, who canceled their booking after the community spoke out in opposition to the bigotry of the organizers. Hate has no home in Queens, New York City, or anywhere else, and certainly not here in Long Island City.”

 

—With contributions by Annette Hanze Alberts

This column was originated by John A. Toscano

 



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