I On Politics | Queens Gazette


FAA APPROVES LAGUARDIA AIRTRAIN: Governor Andrew Cuomo released the following statement on July 20: “The new LaGuardia Airport—the first new airport in the United States in over 25 years and the front door to New York—deserves a reliable, efficient, and affordable transit connector worthy of its destination. With the Federal Aviation Administration’s approval today of the LaGuardia AirTrain, that’s exactly what New Yorkers will get. This is the culmination of years of advocacy by this administration and a key moment in our efforts to rebuild New York’s infrastructure for the future. As we come out of the COVID crisis, our state and our country have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to invest in a resilient, transformative, and interconnected future, and today’s announcement is a testament to our ‘all aboard’ commitment to seizing it, in partnership with the Biden administration and Secretary Buttigieg.”

A Better Way to LGA Co-Chairs Tom Grech, Queens Chamber of Commerce; Christopher P. Boylan, General Contractors Association of New York; Carlo Scissura, New York Building Congress; and Laura Colacurcio, Association for a Better New York released the following statement:

“Today is a day to celebrate if you love protecting the environment, hate sitting in traffic, and welcome job creation and economic opportunity for minority- and women-owned businesses. Today is the day the overwhelming majority of New Yorkers who commented in support of the AirTrain LGA project finally get the faster, cleaner, more reliable transportation option to LaGuardia Airport they want and deserve.

“We commend the Federal Aviation Administration for conducting an exhaustive, transparent public process, and we applaud leaders at the Port Authority for agreeing with the recommendations made by our fellow New Yorkers to invest $50 million to improve and maintain the Malcolm X Promenade along Flushing Bay and other nearby Queens parks.

“Today’s decision confirms what hundreds of business leaders, transportation advocates, community members, labor unions, and civic stakeholders have known for months: this environmentally-friendly transportation link will provide reliable, sustainable, 21stcentury access to the new LaGuardia Airport, while helping to drive the economic recovery of the region that was among the nation’s hardest hit by COVID-19.”

The Queens Chamber of Commerce, Queens’ oldest and largest business association, issued the following statement on behalf of President and CEO Tom Grech in response to the Federal Aviation Administration’s approval of the LaGuardia AirTrain:

“The Queens Chamber of Commerce is delighted that the Federal Aviation Administration has approved The LaGuardia AirTrain, a project that will be a boon to Queens’ business community and our entire region. Not only will the AirTrain create 3,000 construction jobs, $500 million in contracting opportunities for MWBEs, and target local residents for new, permanent AirTrain operations and maintenance jobs, but creating a reliable rail link between midtown Manhattan will enhance our economy and take cars off the road, benefitting our environment.”

“This investment in LaGuardia Airport will catalyze economic activity that supports local businesses and local communities, and comes at a time when many small businesses in Queens are struggling to survive after a difficult year. We are thankful to the Port Authority, and to all of the local business leaders, economic development groups, transportation advocates, labor unions, and civic stakeholders who helped push this vital project forward.”

OVERSIGHT PASSES PAID FAMILY LEAVE FOR FED WORKERS: On July 20, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, issued the following statement after the Committee voted favorably to approve her bills, the Comprehensive Paid Leave for Federal Employees Act, AI in Counterterrorism Oversight Enhancement Act, and Made in America Pandemic Preparation Act, as well as several other bills to increase accountability in the federal government.

“Federal employees keep our nation running throughout times of crisis, and paid family leave is the lifeline they need to take care of their families while continuing this crucial work,” Chairwoman Maloney stated. “I am proud that today, the Committee passed my bill, the Comprehensive Paid Leave for Federal Employees Act, and took a historic step towards making sure no federal worker ever has to choose between taking care of an ill family member and being able to put food on the table. We must continue to build on this progress and push forward nationwide policies to support all working families.”

Providing Paid Family Leave to Federal Employees

Introduced by Chairwoman Maloney, the Comprehensive Paid Leave for Federal Employees Act is landmark legislation that would:

Help federal workers access comprehensive paid family and medical leave by: Covering all 2.6 million federal employees; Granting up to 12 weeks of paid leave during a 12-month period for the qualifying reasons specified in the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993; and

Ensuring that employees have access to paid leave if they get sick, need to care for an ill family member, or need to miss work due to a family member’s military deployment.

Align with the American Families Plan laid out by the Biden Administration to make critical investments in making our economy stronger and more equitable through a national comprehensive paid family and medical leave program.

Retain and recruit the best and brightest in service to the American people while encouraging the federal government—the largest employer in the nation—to lead by example in creating family-friendly work policies.

The Committee also approved the AI in Counterterrorism Oversight Enhancement Act, introduced by Chairwoman Maloney and Rep. Jamie Raskin, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. The bill would strengthen the ability of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board to provide meaningful oversight and governance related to the use of AI technologies for counterterrorism purposes.

Enhancing Domestic Supply Chains

The Committee also approved Chairwoman Maloney’s Made in America Pandemic Preparation Act to incentivize the development and stabilization of the domestic supply chains necessary to protect the country from life-threatening shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) in times of crisis. The bill would require that PPE procured for the Strategic National Stockpile be produced in America unless it is inconsistent with American security interests, if the items are not available from domestic sources, or if the items are too costly.

Increasing Federal Accountability

In addition, the Committee approved several other bills to increase accountability and transparency in the federal government:

H.R. 4125, the Keep the Watchdogs Running Act, a bipartisan bill to authorize Inspectors General to continue operations as if operating under a continuing resolution during a lapse in appropriations;

H.R. 1508, the Guidance Clarity Act, to require federal agencies to include guidance clarity statements on the first page of all guidance documents;

H.R. 4465, the Federally Funded Research and Technology Development Protection Act, to require the Office of Management and Budget to enhance transparency and accountability measures in federal grant-making.

H.R. 2994, the Accountability for Acting Officials Act, to strengthen requirements for the “first assistant” in an office or agency serving as an acting official;

H.R. 4448, the Administrative Law Judge Competitive Service Restoration Act, to reestablish Administrative Law Judges as members of the competitive civil service;

H.R. 3533, “To establish occupational series for federal positions in software development, software engineering, data science, and data management”;

H.R. 4393, “To require the Directors of the Courts Services and Offender Supervision Agency of the District of Columbia and the District of Columbia Pretrial Services Agency to reside in the District of Columbia”.

Additionally, the Committee passed several postal naming measures for United States Postal Service facilities across the country.

STREAMLINED RENT RELIEF APPLICATION: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced on July 26 a new streamlined application process for New York’s rent relief program to help eliminate potential barriers for eligible New Yorkers to receive funding. The new process immediately relaxes documentation standards for both tenants and landlords and implements a streamlined process for submission of arrears documentation for multi-tenant landlords effective July 27. With these new processes in place, the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance will be able to establish a number of viable applications out of the total of over 150,000 submitted by August 7.

Additionally, the contracted vendor working with the State on the rent relief program now has over 1,000 staff dedicated to this effort and will be onboarding additional accounting experts. The NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance will also onboard a minimum of 350 State staff volunteers from other agencies starting today to clear the pending 4,828 cases reviewed and verified applications for payment by August 3. By August 31, OTDA will be current with payment for all pending, verified applications.

“The COVID pandemic has taken a tremendous toll on New Yorkers all across the State, and they need rental assistance now,” Governor Cuomo said. “The $2.7 billion Rental Assistance Program is already providing funding to some of our most vulnerable residents who were prioritized during the first 30 days of the application process, and now we must focus on delivering funds to the remaining applicants. To streamline this process, I’ve directed OTDA to work with their vendor to disburse payments as quickly and efficiently as possible we can deliver billions of dollars in rental assistance to New Yorkers who have been struggling to pay rent due to no fault of their own.”

New York State’s rental assistance program makes up to $2.7 billion in emergency rental assistance available for struggling New Yorkers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program assists households behind on their rent and that have experienced financial hardship, that are at risk of homelessness or housing instability and that earn at or below 80 percent of area median income. Administered by the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, the New York State Emergency Rental Assistance Program provides assistance with up to 12 months of past-due rent, 3 months of prospective rental assistance and 12 months of utility arrears payments to eligible New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status. The program is expected to serve between 170,000 and 200,000 households.

In addition to fiscal relief, ERAP provides significant tenant protections. In order to receive assistance, the landlord must agree to waive any late fees due on past-due rent; and not increase the tenant’s monthly rent or evict them for one year, except in limited circumstances.

The program is funded by $2.6 billion in federal resources and $100 million of state funding and is structured to help the state and the local governments that received funds directly from the federal government to collaborate and coordinate their efforts, thereby leveraging resources, gaining efficiencies and preventing fraud.

In addition, the OTDA is undertaking fraud prevention efforts to identify unreported income and to prevent duplicate rental payments.

BP ON MAYOR’S VACCINE MANDATE FOR CITY WORKERS: Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. stated the following in response to Mayor de Blasio’s newly issued mandate that all municipal employees receive a COVID-19 vaccine or submit to weekly COVID-19 testing ahead of the commencement of the 2021-22 school year: “The science is clear: Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is the best way to protect ourselves, our families and our communities from a vicious virus that has killed more than 8,600 of our fellow Queens residents and delivered an unprecedented blow to our borough. Mayor de Blasio’s announcement today (July 26) is a common-sense investment in the overall safety and ultimate recovery of our city, while also respecting reasonable accommodations on an individual basis,” said Borough President RICHARDS. “We’ve come too far and lost too much in the fight against COVID-19 to not defeat this once and for all. The vaccines are safe, free and effective. If you have not already, visit nyc.gov/vaccinefinder and get your shot today.”

CUOMO LAUNCHES $100M NYC MUSIC & THEATER TAX CREDIT: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced on July 22 the launch of the new $100 million New York City Musical and Theatrical Production Tax Credit, designed to help revitalize an industry vital to the state’s continued economic recovery. This program will further jump-start the entertainment industry and help to generate additional tourism activity in New York City. Prior to the pandemic, Broadway theatres welcomed a collective audience of nearly 250,000 people each week, while the industry supported more than 90,000 local jobs and contributed over $14 billion to the New York City economy annually. Since the program was first announced as part of the FY 2022 Budget, at least 35 productions have announced opening performance plans for this year.

“New York is not ‘New York’ without theatre, but for more than a year and a half visitors and residents were unable to enjoy the unparalleled experience of a live stage performance,” Governor Cuomo said. “Theatrical productions support thousands of jobs and showcase performances and artists that reflect our state’s great talent and diversity. With the state’s coronavirus restrictions lifted, these tax credits will help to restart this quintessentially New York industry more quickly.”

The $100 million New York City Musical and Theatrical Production Tax Credit is a two-year program designed to support the entertainment and tourism industries in New York City. The program will offset some of the costs associated with producing a show, including production costs for sets, costumes, wardrobes, makeup, technical support, salaries, sound, lighting and staging. Eligible companies can receive tax credits of 25% of qualified production expenditures. First-year program applicants can receive up to $3 million per production, with second year applications being eligible for up to $1.5 million.

All program participants will be required to take part in a New York State diversity and arts job training program and expand opportunities for low-income New Yorkers to access productions at low or no-cost. To continue supporting the arts, highly profitable participating productions will increase access to art and cultural programs by contributing to a cultural access fund overseen by the New York State Council on the Arts.

More information on the program, including the program guidelines and application, is available at esd.ny.gov/new-york-city-musical-and-theatrical-production-tax-credit/

The New York City Musical and Theatrical Production Tax Credit Programs is part of a comprehensive package of economic recovery initiatives announced in April as part of the FY2022 Budget to help restart the State’s economy and support the recovery of New York’s businesses. The $1 billionpackage includes assistance and relief for arts and cultural organizations, musical and theatrical productions, the tourism industry, restaurants, and the state’s small businesses, which represent 98%of New York’s economy. Earlier this year, Governor Cuomo launched NY PopsUp, an unprecedented and expansive festival featuring hundreds of pop-up performances to revitalize the spirits of New Yorkers with the energy of live performances and jumpstart the state’s live entertainment industry.

Empire State Development launched NYSBusinessRecovery.ny.gov, a dedicated website featuring an interactive tool that can guide businesses through the state’s various pandemic recovery programs. The site also highlights additional resources available to support businesses seeking pandemic relief. It will be continuously updated by Empire State Development as more details andfunding information become available.

THIRD ROUND OF WOMEN’S ARTS GRANT APPLICATIONS: The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) and New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) announced on July 26 that applications are open for the third round of grants as part of The NYC Women’s Fund for Media, Music and Theatre. Qualified applicants can apply for finishing grants through November 1, 2021 at www.nyfa.org/nycwomensfund. The $5.5 million grant program, launched in 2018, has awarded $3.5 million to 157 film, theatre and music projects to date, with NYFA acting as the grant administrator.

The NYC Women’s Fund is a signature initiative launched to address the underrepresentation of all who identify as women in the entertainment industries. The fund has opened doors of opportunity for many female and female-identified creatives, employed over 300 artists to date, and served as a model for how local government can promote creative projects by, for, or about women.

A series of online informational sessions will be available to all those interested in applying at www.nyfa.org/nycwomensfund:

  • Wednesday, 2 PM EDT: August 4 – Overview video of NYC Women’s Fund
  • Wednesday, 2 PM EDT: August 18 – LIVE online info session for Music category
  • Wednesday, 2 PM EDT: Sept 8 – LIVE online info session for Media category
  • Wednesday, 2 PM EDT: Sept 29 – LIVE online info session for Theatre category
  • Wednesday, 7 PM EDT: Oct 20 – LIVE online info session for application budgets and timeline

Projects are eligible if they feature a strong female or female-identified perspective; and/or include a female or female-identified director; and/or include a meaningful female or female-identified producer credit; and/or include a meaningful female or female-identified writing credit; and/or include a female or female-identified protagonist(s). Eligible projects for music grants will include new EPs, albums, and videos for yet-to-be released works from all genres. Projects must have a significant female writing credit, producer credit, engineering credit, and/or musical lead. NYC-based producers, composers, engineers, solo musicians, ensemble bands, and orchestras that are not currently signed to a major label can apply. Applicants must also show evidence of a growing fan base and have played multiple live shows.

All recipients must be NYC residents. Anyone can apply and be awarded a grant regardless of actual or perceived sex, gender, gender identity or gender expression, sexual orientation, age, religion, creed, partnership status, marital status, disability, race, color, national origin, alienage, citizenship status, military status, or any other class protected by City, State, or Federal law.

Applications and eligibility requirements are available at www.nyfa.org/nycwomensfund. To sign up for updates on the Fund, please visit MOME’s website. You can use hashtag #NYCWomensFund to participate in the conversation.

$52M FOR COMMUNITY SOLAR PROJECTS: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced on July 20 the launch of the Inclusive Community Solar Adder program that makes $52.5 million available for community solar projects that support underserved New Yorkers and disadvantaged communities. Projects funded through the program are expected to serve up to 50,000 low-to-moderate income households, affordable housing providers, and facilities serving disadvantaged communities, which will receive energy bill savings from the clean, renewable energy generated by community solar. Increasing access to solar energy for low-income residents supports Governor Cuomo’s goal to ensure that at least 35 percent with a goal of 40 percent of the benefits of clean energy investments go to disadvantaged communities as outlined in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

The Inclusive Community Solar Adder program, administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, provides an additional incentive for NY-Sun community solar projects that dedicate at least 20 percent of their project to eligible low-to-moderate income households and disadvantaged communities. The program adder will increase access to community solar, help customers save at least 10 percent on their electric bills, and reduce operating costs for affordable housing and nonprofits serving disadvantaged communities. Bonus incentives will be awarded for projects sited in environmental justice communities burdened by conventional power generating facilities.

The program design was informed by a Request for Information issued by NYSERDA in December 2020, and by stakeholders who participated in a March 2021 webinar hosted by NYSERDA. Another webinar on the program will be held on July 28, 2021 from 1-2 p.m. Register online. For more information on the program, visit NYSERDA’s website.

CUOMO AWARDS $4M FOR THERMAL CLEAN ENERGY: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced on July 19 nearly $4 million in awards to 23 projects under the first round of the Community Heat Pump Systems Pilot program to advance community thermal networks that harness geothermal and waste energy to heat and cool buildings. The winning projects will explore clean energy options at 600 buildings to reduce carbon emissions and air pollution with two-thirds of funding being directed to projects that support disadvantaged communities. This announcement supports Governor Cuomo’s nation-leading clean energy and climate agenda in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act including an 85 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

“Community thermal networks create the opportunity to scale up building electrification by providing healthier places to live and work to communities across the State,” Governor Cuomo said. “These projects showcase how we can pair new, clean energy infrastructure in our communities while also delivering long-term energy savings for residents, including those in low income and disadvantaged communities.”

The Community Heat Pump Systems Pilot Program is administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and seeks to create community thermal networks by connecting multiple buildings located in proximity to each other through shared heat pump piping and infrastructure. A community thermal strategy accelerates the decarbonization of New York’s building stock – moving from a building-by-building approach to a block-by-block and community-by-community model.

The announcement includes projects that were awarded in three categories: scoping studies, construction projects and best practices guidebooks to ensure that new, innovative models for thermal networks will be developed to maximize project scope and community impact. The pilot program also focuses on exploring waste energy discarded by other buildings or community sources to supply the heat pumps. Funding for additional proposals is still available for scoping studies, construction projects and best practices guidebooks and in the area of design studies.

Scoping Study Awards: 21 of the 23 awarded projects are scoping studies, which are subject to contract execution, and will look at the feasibility of installing heat pump networks. This first step in assessment will include more than 600 buildings and represent more than 40-million square feet of occupied spaces including colleges, hospital, multifamily residential complexes, commercial buildings, and mixed-use complexes. Ten of the studies focus on disadvantaged communities and will determine how to realize community thermal heat pump networks to benefit more than 8,000 affordable households.

In   New York City: nine projects, including the following in Queens:

  • Innovation Queens mixed-use complex – Endurant Energy*
  • Fleet Financial Eastern Emerald mixed-use complex – MEP Geothermal Engineering

*Located in a disadvantaged community.

ADDABBO MEETS W/ CON ED ON PREVENTING OUTAGES: Back in June, State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. held a virtual meeting with members of Con Edison to address some recent power outages in areas throughout his district, especially in communities like Howard Beach, Ozone Park and Middle Village.

According to ConEd’s numbers, Howard Beach suffered outages on April 21 and April 30 that left 600 customers without power each time, and again on May 1, where 200 customers lost power. Ozone Park had an outage on May 9 that affected 1,400 customers, while Middle Village has seen 19 outages since 2012 that interrupted service for nearly 9,000 customers. Issues including transformer fires, blown fuses, defective underground cables, and downed trees have caused these outages, ConEd explained.

“I understand that bad storms have the ability to cause power outages, and with climate change severe storms are becoming more powerful, but the frequency and duration of these outages are unacceptable,” Senator Addabbo said. “My constituents should not have to worry that their power will go out every time there is a storm. Our electrical grid should be able to handle these storms and provide power to customers when they need it the most.”

Although there have been issues, ConEd informed the Senator of the work they have done in the past, as well as their current and future plans to ensure that customers do not lose power.

In the Howard Beach and Ozone Park areas, ConEd has already invested $2 million in upgrades to feeder conductors, transformers, and underground cables, while also installing storm-hardened fuses and switches. In preparation for Summer 2021, ConEd told Addabbo that they have invested an additional $150,000 for feeder conductor and transformer upgrades, and have created Summer Preparation Training and Heat Drills for employees.

When it comes to the Middle Village area, ConEd told Addabbo that an area from 75th Place to 77th Street between Furmanville Avenue and 66th Road will be part of an Undergrounding Pilot Program.

This program aims to remove three overhead transformers, 11 spans of overhead primary wires and 28 spans of overhead secondary wires. This initiative would bring the power for 152 customers underground, alleviating issues with the high tree density on Juniper Valley Road that have caused outages in the past.

“I will continue to monitor ConEd’s progress on these projects, as well as any issues raised from my constituents when it comes to power outages,” Addabbo added. “Updating infrastructure and finding new ways to protect customers is one of ConEd’s strengths, and I look forward to working with them going forward to ensure that the people across my district are not left in the dark for hours after a storm.”

‘EXXON ADMITS CLIMATE DISINFORMATION’ CAMPAIGN: On July 26, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Oversight and Reform Committee, and Rep. Ro Khanna, Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Environment, sent a letter to Keith McCoy, a senior lobbyist for ExxonMobil, requesting his appearance at a transcribed interview regarding efforts by ExxonMobil and other fossil fuel companies to mislead the public and Members of Congress about the dangers of fossil fuels and their role in causing global climate change.

“ExxonMobil has had scientific evidence about the danger posed by climate change since at least 1981,” wrote the Chairs. “Yet for decades, the fossil fuel industry and its allies have used the same tactics as the tobacco industry to spread denial and doubt about the harm of its products—undermining the science and preventing serious action on climate change. ExxonMobil has played a large role in these decades of climate disinformation.”

In video clips aired by Channel 4 News in the United Kingdom on June 30 McCoy appeared with an undercover reporter from Greenpeace UK Unearthed. During the interview, he acknowledged ExxonMobil’s deliberate efforts to mislead the public on climate change, saying, “Did we aggressively fight against some of the science? Yes.” He added: “Did we join some of these shadow groups to work against some of the early efforts? Yes, that’s true.” McCoy also described ExxonMobil’s current public support for a price on carbon as an “advocacy tool” and “great talking point” that is unlikely to ever happen.

In other segments of the video, aired a day later, McCoy also described his efforts to influence members of Congress on policy issues including defining natural gas as a clean energy source, despite clear scientific evidence to the contrary, Maloney noted, in addition to prices on carbon, sanctions on Russia, and regulating plastics manufacturing.

“Your statements raise serious concerns about your role in ongoing efforts by ExxonMobil and the fossil fuel industry to spread climate disinformation, including through the use of ‘shadow groups,’ in order to block action needed to address climate change,” the Chairs added.

Maloney explained that the United States saw an increase in emissions from the energy sector and in overall greenhouse gas emissions between 1990 and 2019. Carbon pollution emissions from fossil fuel combustion accounted for over 92 percent of carbon dioxide emissions in 2019 and were responsible for most of the increase in U.S. emissions from 2009 to 2019. The United States has experienced nineteen of the warmest years on record since 2000.

The Chairs requested McCoy’s participation in a transcribed interview on August 9.

SENATE VOTES TO RESTORE FUNDS FOR VICTIMS OF CRIMES ACT: On July 20, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer announced the Senate passage of the VOCA Fix Act, which will restore and preserve services relief for victims of domestic and sexual violence, human trafficking, child abuse and other victims of violent crimes. The VOCA Fix Act redirects revenues collected from deferred prosecutions and non-prosecution agreements into the Crime Victims Fund (CVF). This change could make an additional $4 – $7 billion of non-taxpayer money available to the CVF. The legislation passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support and passed unanimously in the Senate, with 63 senators acting as co-sponsors.

The bipartisan and bicameral VOCA Fix Act, was introduced in the Senate as S. 611 by Senators Durbin, Graham, Baldwin, Grassley, Feinstein, Cornyn, Klobuchar, and Murkowski, and is a narrowly-focused, carefully negotiated technical fix to address an immediate crisis – massive cuts to Victim of Crime Act (“VOCA”) grants and insufficient funding for victim compensation.

Schumer explained that for nearly 35 years, the Justice Department has operated a Crime Victims Fund that uses money from federal convictions and fines to help survivors of violent crime. Traditionally, most of the funding came from penalties paid through federal convictions. But over time, revenue to the Fund has shrunk dramatically. Compared to five years ago, the Crime Victims Fund could fall to less than one-twentieth of its former size by the end of the next fiscal year.

“That’s why the Senate voted on and passed a measure that assists in replenishing The Victim of Crimes Fund as we work to ensure that it remains stable for the foreseeable future,” Schumer added. “The survivors of violent crimes deserve the peace of mind that they do not bear the burden of recovering from trauma alone.”

VOCA grants are funded by monetary penalties associated with Federal criminal convictions – they are not funded with taxpayer money. In recent years, deposits into the VOCA’s Crime Victims Fund (“CVF” or “the Fund”) have dropped dramatically, due to the Department of Justice’s increasing reliance on deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements (DPAs/NPAs). Unlike criminal convictions, monetary penalties associated with DPAs/NPAs are deposited into the General Fund of the Treasury – they do not go into the Crime Victims Fund, despite being outcomes based on the same crimes. The VOCA Fix Act fixes this discrepancy by making a technical fix to deposit monetary penalties associated with DPAs/NPAs into the CVF instead of the General Fund, in alignment with the original intent of the statute. The VOCA Fix Act is a narrowly tailored, carefully negotiated technical fix bill to address the immediate needs of survivors, and today the Senate passed this critical legislation.

VOCA grants are the primary source of federal funding for thousands of victim service providers across the nation, including programs serving victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, trafficking, and drunk driving. VOCA grants also fund victim compensation, which helps survivors pay medical bills, makes up for missed wages, and, in the most severe cases, helps pay for funeral costs. The VOCA Fix Act also improves state compensation programs for victim’s services, increasing reimbursement from the federal government from 60 to 75 percent.

MALONEY OPENS OVERSIGHT HEARING ON JUSTICE40: Below is Committee on Oversight and Reform Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney’s opening statement, as prepared for delivery, for the July 21 hearing entitled Building Back with Justice; Environmental Justice is Central to the American Jobs Plan:

“On January 27th, President Biden issued an Executive Order expressing his resolve to tackle climate change by creating good jobs and ensuring all agency decisions consider climate impacts. Executive Order 14008 contained a groundbreaking new policy with the potential to transform how we measure environmental harm and how we share economic opportunity across our country. Known as the Justice40 Initiative, President Biden has committed to ensuring that the communities most impacted by pollution receive at least 40 percent of the benefits of the Administration’s ambitious infrastructure investments. President Biden made this goal a key part of the Build Back Better Plan in order to ensure that climate investments advance racial and economic justice. And getting this done right will be a key part of this Committee’s agenda, because for the many communities that have waited far too long for progress, this is a matter of life and death.

“This is life and death for people in Congresswoman Tlaib’s district in Detroit, where heavy industry and thick congestion have increased asthma hospitalization rates, including in young children. This is life and death for hundreds of thousands of people in Congresswoman Cori Bush’s district in Missouri, who live with confirmed or suspected exposure to radioactive waste. According to the Government Accountability Office, her constituents may be, quote, ‘the tip of the iceberg.’

“Two of today’s witnesses are environmental justice leaders appointed to the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, which released an excellent list of implementation recommendations in May. Among them was a very important piece of common sense: in addition to ensuring 40 percent of our climate and infrastructure investments go to hard-hit communities, we need to make sure that none of these investments hurt these communities. Using some investments to cause pollution, and other funds to stop it, falls far short of what our hardest hit communities need. Children are getting sick. People are dying. We must get this right. Now it is up to the White House, federal agencies, and Congress to make Justice40 a reality.”

$30M BILL TO IMPLEMENT MENG’S HATE CRIMES LAW: U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) announced on July 20 that she secured $30 million in a key spending bill to expand provisions in her COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which President Biden signed into law on May 20 to help combat the ongoing hate and violence against Asian Americans and other impacted communities.

Meng attached the funding to the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill. The measure now heads to the House floor where it is expected to pass later this month. The money would be provided directly to community-based organizations to implement the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act’s goal of community engagement, empowerment, and education. One of the major provisions in the new hate crimes law directs federal agencies to work with community-based organizations to raise awareness of hate crimes during the COVID-19 crisis.

Community-based organizations and civil rights groups can use the funds for:

  • Implementing and facilitating educational classes and community services for defendants convicted of hate crimes (directly related to the community harmed by the offensive).
  • Culturally competent and linguistically appropriate public education campaigns on the collection of data and public reporting of hate crimes.
  • Safety ambassadors to escort vulnerable community members in public places.
  • In-language support for victims and/or surviving families of hate crimes including mental health support.
  • Providing bystander, de-escalation trainings in multiple languages.
  • Other community-based strategies deemed appropriate for communities of color and other vulnerable and historically disadvantaged communities.

The $30 million is allocated under a new grant program called “Community-Based Approaches to Advancing Justice.”

Other provisions of Meng’s COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act include, among other things, creating a position at the Department of Justice to facilitate expedited review of COVID-19 hate crimes, encouraging more reporting of incidents in multiple languages, and expanding public education campaigns aimed at raising awareness of hate crimes and reaching victims.

Meng reintroduced the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act in March with Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI). It was passed in Congress with overwhelming and bipartisan support; 364 to 62 in the House and of 94 to 1 in the Senate.

WOMAN CHARGED WITH ANTI-ASIAN HATE CRIMES: Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced on July 25 that Maricia Bell, 25, has been charged with assault as a hate crime and other charges for four different attacks on people of Asian descent in Flushing. The defendant allegedly punched or struck the victims with an object without provocation starting in May of this year and continuing through the 21st of this month.

District Attorney Katz said, “Racism is immoral and unacceptable – acting on one’s prejudice is a crime. This defendant must answer for allegedly attacking four different victims – all people of Asian descent – during sudden, violent outburst of rage here in Queens County. Now in custody, thanks to an anonymous tip, the defendant will face justice for her alleged actions.”

Bell, of Parsons Boulevard in the Fresh Meadows neighborhood of Queens, was arraigned before Queens Criminal Court Judge Morris on a complaint charging him with Robbery in the second and third degree as a hate crime, assault in the second and third degree as a hate crime, grand larceny in the fourth degree as a hate crime, petit larceny, as a hate crime, aggravated harassment in the second degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree. Judge Morris ordered the defendant to return to Court on August 16, 2021. If convicted, Bell faces up to 25 years in prison.

According to the charges, at approximately 8:55 a.m. on May 23, 2021, inside the parking lot of 71-43 Kissena Blvd., the defendant was observed on video surveillance to approach the 24-year-old victim, punch him in the face, remove his glasses, and then flee.

On June 16th, said the DA, the defendant was inside a bodega located at 70-63 Parsons Blvd. around 6:14 p.m. when she allegedly struck an Asian woman in the back of her head. On July 11th around 8 p.m., on the corner of Parsons Blvd. and 72nd Avenue, the defendant is accused of slapping a 63-year-old Asian woman in the face and removing the victims’ mask.

Just this last Wednesday, July 21st, according to the charges, the defendant was on 71st Avenue and Parsons Blvd., at approximately 7:30 a.m. when she allegedly attacked a 75-year-old woman. The victim was struck in the head with a hammer causing a laceration and bleeding.

FOREST HILLS CHURCH VANDALISM ‘VILE ACT OF HATE’: Congresswoman Grace Meng, Senator Joseph Addabbo, Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi, and Councilmember Karen Koslowitz released the following statement after a reported incident of vandalism at Our Lady of Mercy Roman Catholic Church in Forest Hills on Saturday July 17. “We stand united against the abhorrent act that occurred at Our Lady of Mercy Roman Catholic Church. Last Saturday someone took a hammer and totally destroyed the statues of the Blessed Mother and St. Therese the Little Flower in a senseless and vile act of hate. In the Borough of Queens, the most diverse place in our city, we can never accept religious intolerance, we must remain ever vigilant, condemning hate in all forms. We thank the 112th Precinct for their swift investigation into this hate crime and hope they will soon apprehend the perpetrator of this act and bring them to justice.”

GILLIBRAND BILL BANS HAIR DISCRIMINATION: U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced her co-sponsorship of the Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act, a critical piece of legislation to ban pervasive, race-based discrimination against natural hair, hair textures, and hairstyles commonly worn by Black people. The CROWN Act is led in the Senate by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ).

“For far too long, discrimination and prejudice against Black hair has been used as another tool to create barriers and disenfranchise Black people. No one should ever be criticized, harassed, or punished for their natural hair and heritage,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I am proud to join my friend and colleague Senator Booker to set a clear, federal standard banning discrimination against Black hair. The CROWN Act would help combat and correct deeply ingrained social biases against Black hair and ensure our children grow up learning to love themselves and their individual beauty.”

Gillibrand explained that discrimination against natural hair remains a significant barrier in both the personal and professional advancement of people of color, especially Black women. A recent study found that Black women’s hair is three times more likely to be perceived as unprofessional and that Black women are 80 percent more likely to feel the need to alter their natural hair to fit office standards. Additionally, Black women are 50 percent more likely to be sent home from the workplace because of their hair.

Current federal law prohibits some forms of hair discrimination as racial discrimination. However, federal courts have narrowly construed protections that allow schools, workplaces, and federally-funded institutions to discriminate against people of African descent who wear natural or protective hairstyles. The CROWN Act makes clear that discrimination against natural and protective hairstyles associated with people of African descent, including hair that is tightly coiled or tightly curled, locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, and Afros, is a prohibited form of racial or national origin discrimination.

This legislation is supported by 55 organizations, including the Congressional Black Caucus, CROWN Coalition advocate Adjoa B. Asamoah, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

BP RICHARDS ATTENDS ANTI-GUN VIOLENCE FAIR: Queens Unites Against Violence In response to the recent citywide uptick in shootings over the past year, the Queensbridge Houses community came together as one united neighborhood on July 17 for an Anti-Gun Violence Fair. Queens Borough President Richards and the scores of families in attendance were treated to an afternoon of kids activities, music, live performances, food, community resources, COVID-19 testing and more.

Other BP Richards News:

Let There Be Light in Laurelton: Alongside the NYC Department of Transportation and community leaders, Borough President Richards unveiled dozens of new, long-awaited street lights along Merrick Boulevard in Laurelton. At a cost of more than $1 million, the streetlights represent a significant investment in both public safety and traffic safety along one of Queens’ most vital thoroughfares.

Coming Together to Celebrate 718 Day: Queens residents come from all corners of the globe, speaking hundreds of different languages and practicing dozens of different religions. But people from all walks of life coming together as one Queens community is what makes the 718 so great, Borough President Richards said at Sunday’s 718 Day celebration in Forest Hills hosted by a number of area businesses.

Supporting Queens Seniors: With city senior centers slowly reopening, Borough President Richards paid a visit to the elders of the Robert Couche Senior Center in Southeast Queens on July 16 to discuss the importance of getting vaccinated and reemphasize the Queens Borough President’s Office’s commitment to supporting and uplifting the approximately 300,000 seniors who call The World’s Borough home.

Growing Cricket in The World’s Borough: Head to any park in Queens and you’re bound to see a cricket match or two. On July 15, Deputy Borough President Rhonda Binda welcomed USA Cricket and the Empire State Titans, the borough’s local minor league cricket franchise, to Queens Borough Hall to discuss how to grow one of the world’s most popular sports here in The World’s Borough.

BRAUNSTEIN ANNOUNCES URGENT BLOOD DRIVE: Assemblyman Edward C. Braunstein (D-Bayside) is sponsoring his 9th Annual Summer Blood Drive, in conjunction with the New York Blood Center. This urgent-need blood drive will take place on Thursday, August 5, from 1-7 p.m. at the Bay Terrace Shopping Center at 212-51 26th Avenue (formerly American Eagle Outfitters).

“The New York Blood Center recently announced an urgent need for blood donations,” said Assemblyman Edward Braunstein. “Donating blood is safe and saves up to three lives. I hope that you will take the time to share this lifesaving gift at our drive on August 5th.”

All donors will receive a free limited edition New York Mets t-shirt and will be entered into a sweepstakes to win a 6-pack of Mets tickets, provided by the New York Blood Center.

To remain in compliance with the guidelines for social distancing, appointments are encouraged. To sign up, visit: tinyurl.com/BraunsteinDrive2021 or contact Assemblyman Braunstein’s office by phone at 718-357-3588 or by email at braunsteine@nyassembly.gov.


  • Must wear a mask or face covering
  • Must be 14 days symptom free if recovered from COVID-19
  • May NOT donate if they have had a positive diagnostic test or experienced symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 14 days
  • May NOT donate if they are currently on self-quarantine restrictions

For medical questions concerning blood donations, call 1-800-688-0900

MOSQUITOES WITH WEST NILE VIRUS DETECTED: The Health Department announced that mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus have been detected in New York City. The infected Culex pipiens and Cx. restuans mosquitoes were collected in all five boroughs. One suspected human case of West Nile virus is currently under investigation by the Health Department. Mosquito season typically spans April through September.

There are more than 50 permanent surveillance sites citywide, and the Health Department installs additional mosquito traps around affected areas to enhance mosquito surveillance. The Department uses a comprehensive, integrated management approach to prevent and control mosquitoes which can transmit West Nile virus. The City controls the mosquito population by applying larvicide in catch basins, marshland and other areas with standing water. The Health Department has already begun catch basin larviciding and conducted two helicopter-based larviciding events in the marsh areas of Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. Pesticides can be sprayed to target adult mosquitoes where persistent West Nile virus activity is detected.

The West Nile virus was first detected in New York City 21 years ago. Since 1999, the number of human cases has ranged from 3 to 47 annually. Of the 359 West Nile virus neuroinvasive disease cases overall, 47 (13%) have died due to their infection. The number of positive mosquito pools has also varied from 40 to 1,010 per year. New York City has over 40 species of mosquitoes, but West Nile virus is transmitted primarily by several Culex species, including Culex salinarius and Culex pipiens.

West Nile virus infection can cause a mild or moderate febrile illness (fever); and most (80%) of those infected have no symptoms at all. In some people, particularly those 50 and older or who have weakened immune systems, West Nile virus can cause a serious and potentially fatal infection of the brain and spinal cord. The most common symptoms are headache, fever, muscle aches, and extreme fatigue. Symptoms of more severe illness can also include changes in mental status and muscle weakness requiring hospitalization. Most patients who are infected with WNV will go on to fully recover from their illness. However, some continue to have problems months after infection. If a person has symptoms of West Nile virus, they should contact or see their doctor.

Most New Yorkers diagnosed with West Nile virus report they did not use repellent or take other precautions to prevent a mosquito bite. Remember to obtain repellent for yourself, and also offer to get it for your older neighbors or relatives. For information about which repellent is best for you, visit the EPA site to search by product and duration of effectiveness.

To further reduce mosquito populations, the Health Department also removes standing water and applies larvicide to sites that cannot be emptied or drained; investigates standing water complaints filed through 311; and educates the public about mosquito-borne illnesses through outreach.

Reducing Exposure to Mosquitoes:

  • Use an approved insect repellent containing picaridin, DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus (not for children under three), or products that contain the active ingredient IR3535. Visit the EPA site to search by product and duration of effectiveness.
  • Make sure windows have screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or holes.
  • Eliminate any standing water from your property and dispose of containers that can collect water. Standing water is a violation of the New York City Health Code.
  • Make sure roof gutters are clean and drained properly.
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs. Keep them empty or covered if not in use. Drain water that collects in pool covers.

For more information about West Nile virus, or to report standing water, visit nyc.gov/health/wnv or call 311.

SECURE $30M FOR THOSE AFFECTED BY HAVANA SYNDROME: Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Tom Cotton, Jeanne Shaheen, and Susan Collins secured key provisions and funding in the Senate FY22 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to provide American government employees and their families suffering from symptoms of “Havana Syndrome” access to the National Intrepid Center of Excellence at Walter Reed. These provisions were included in the WIRe Act introduced by the four Senators in May.

“In the past several years, U.S. government employees and their families have experienced attacks that have left them suffering from symptoms of ‘Havana Syndrome,’ which include headaches, memory problems and brain damage,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I am proud that this year’s NDAA includes the bipartisan Walter Reed Injury Recovery (WIRe) Act, which will ensure that those suffering from Havana Syndrome can receive care at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence at Walter Reed, the nation’s top facility for treating such injuries. This important legislation honors our commitment to the men and women who bravely serve our country.”

“Brave Americans wounded in the service of our country deserve every measure of our support,” said Senator Cotton. “I’m proud of this important provision is included in the NDAA as part of a long campaign to care for the men and women who protect us every day and hold their attackers responsible.”

“For years I’ve been working to increase access to medical benefits and care for public servants and their loved ones who’ve been affected by directed energy attacks. After all they’ve been through, they shouldn’t face the additional burden of attaining the care they need and deserve to get well.” said Senator Shaheen. “The National Academy of Sciences report informed us that swift action is critical in helping those who’ve been victimized by these attacks, which is why The WIRe Act – which will allow those afflicted to access care at Walter Reed facilities for medical treatment – is so important. This is a necessary step to help those who’ve been affected, but much work remains. I’ll keep up the pressure the deliver the assistance our public servants and their loved ones need to get well and will stop at nothing to uncover the causation of these attacks.”

“It is unacceptable that some victims of probable directed energy attacks did not receive the medical support they should have expected from our government when they were injured,” said Senator Collins. “American personnel who have undergone these attacks while serving our country should be treated the same way we would treat a soldier who suffered a traumatic injury on the battlefield. Walter Reed Medical Center has a world-renowned treatment center for TBIs, and I am pleased that our bipartisan provision in the NDAA would ensure non-DOD personnel have prompt access to this top-notch care.”

Additionally, the Senators secured $30 million in the Senate NDAA for the Defense Health Program in order to improve treatment for victims of Havana Syndrome.

NYC HEALTH + HOSPITALS HOSTS FARMERS MARKETS: NYC Health + Hospitals announced its 2021 schedule for farmers markets hosted at public hospitals and community health centers across the city. The public health system has again partnered with GrowNYC and Harvest Home Farmers Market, two local non-profit organizations, to host farmers markets and fresh food box programs at patient care locations throughout the city. These partnerships make fresh fruits and vegetables more accessible for patients, staff, and the community. Farmers markets offer a variety of affordable, regionally grown vegetables, fruits, and fresh juices in communities where residents sometimes lack access to quality produce at reasonable prices. Each farmers market continues to take appropriate COVID-19 precautions by enforcing face coverings and social distancing, as well as facilitating contact-less shopping wherever possible. The access to conveniently located farmers markets builds on the public health care system’s continued commitment to support healthy eating options at and near its facilities.

“Proper nutrition is the foundation for good health, and our farmers markets make it easier for our patients, staff, and neighbors to access this conveniently and affordably,” said NYC Health + Hospitals President and CEO Mitchell Katz, MD. “We’re grateful for our partners that make it possible for our public health system to offer this important resource to our communities.”

Various payment options are available to help New Yorkers take advantage of farmers markets, and Fresh Food Box sites, including EBT/SNAP, Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) coupons, and Women, Infants and Children (WIC) coupons. Grow NYC sites also accept Healthfirst OTC cards for LIP and CC members. In addition, Harvest Home offers a Good-to-Go Bag, featuring a sample of the healthy produce featured in the weekly recipes and has partnered with local non-profits to its Nourish NY vouchers that will provide customers $4 in coupons to purchase fruits and vegetables.

In addition to their Greenmarkets, GrowNYC offers their Fresh Food Box program year-round at NYC Health + Hospitals/Carter location, which is a food access initiative that enables under-served communities to purchase fresh, healthy, and primarily regionally grown produce well below traditional retail prices through the power of collaborative purchasing. Participants sign up for the service and visit their local Fresh Food Box location during the designated time to pick up their produce and order their box for the following week.

Farmers markets at NYC Health + Hospitals facilities in Queens for the 2021 season are as follow:

  • NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, Operated by GrowNYC, 41st Avenue between 80th and 81st Streets. Tuesdays: 8am – 4pm (Through November 23)
  • NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens, Operated NYS Agriculture and Markets, 82-68 164 Street between Gotham Avenue and Grand Central Parkway, Thursdays: 8am – 5pm (Through November 30)

NYC Health + Hospitals offers a variety of primary and preventive care services to help New Yorkers control their weight, avoid, or manage chronic conditions, and learn about healthy eating and lifestyles. All services are affordable and available to New Yorkers regardless of their ability to pay, immigration status, or insurance status.

For more information on the NYC Health + Hospitals Farmers Markets, visit www.nychealthandhospitals.org/services/farmers-markets/.

CHALLENGE PLAYGROUND REDESIGN GROUNDBREAKING: Council Member Barry S. Grodenchik celebrated the start of new construction at Challenge Playground, surrounded by other elected officials, Parks Department officials, and local civic leaders.

The $3 million project, for which design began in 2018, was made possible thanks to Councilmember Grodenchik and former Borough President Melinda R. Katz, who helped secure funding, with continued support from Borough President Donovan J. Richards, Jr. Other advocates and attendees of the groundbreaking included Senator John C. Liu, Assemblymember Edward C. Braunstein, several civic organizations, and the New York City Parks Department.

The Parks Department plans to reconstruct the existing playground with brand new sensory play equipment, swings, and spray showers. The new design will feature auditory and visual elements that will offer playful shadow effects, sounds, and touchable textures. Additional upgrades will include new seating and picnic areas, plantings, and repaved pedestrian pathways for easier access to the play area.

The redesign is expected to be complete in spring 2022.

“Playgrounds are critical to the health of a community, so the redesign and reconstruction of Challenge Playground will provide tremendous benefit to the communities of Little Neck and Douglaston,” said Councilmember Grodenchik. “The improvements will create an amazing outdoor space where local residents, especially children, will be able to connect, interact, and thrive for years to come.”

“This is a great day for the children and families of Little Neck as we break ground on this first-class playground,” said Borough President Richards. “Children need to have high-quality places to play in order for them to grow and thrive, and the reconstructed Challenge Playground will be such a space. I thank Councilmember Grodenchik and the de Blasio administration for making today’s groundbreaking possible.”

HOUSE DEMS’ 200TH DAY OF THE 117TH CONGRESS: On the 200th day of the 117th Congress, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) released the following statement: “House Democrats have been laser-focused on several issues of great importance to the American people: crushing the virus, providing direct relief and assistance to everyday Americans who are struggling, bringing accountability and transparency to police forces and tackling the voter suppression epidemic.

“In partnership with President Biden, House Democrats listened to those who stood up, who spoke up, who showed up across America in the streets and at the polls and turned their calls into action. We passed the American Rescue Plan, which provided $1400 direct payment survival checks, extended unemployment insurance benefits, supported struggling homeowners and renters and ensured millions of shots in arms. We helped families with children put food on the table and pay for clothing, diapers and health care with monthly Child Tax Credit payments. We acted with the fierce urgency of now and passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to change the mindset of policing and passed the For the People Act as Republicans continue their assault on voting rights across the country.

“In just 200 days, weʼve accomplished so much, and we wonʼt be taking our foot off the gas pedal anytime soon. President Biden and Democrats have been very clear from the start: when we emerge from this pandemic, we’re not going to go back to normal because far too many Americans were struggling even before this crisis. We promised to create prosperity and opportunity in every single zip code and Build Back Better For The People, and thatʼs exactly what weʼre doing.”

MALONEY MARKS ANNIVERSARY OF DODD-FRANK: Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), member of the Dodd-Frank conference committee and senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, on July 21 marked the eleventh anniversary of President Obama signing the landmark Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act into law.

“More than a decade after President Obama signed Dodd-Frank into law, the evidence remains clear: this landmark financial reform is working. Thanks to these reforms, our financial system is now safer, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has returned more than $12 billion to 31 million consumers, and our markets are fairer, more transparent, and more robust. However, there is still work to be done.

“The actions taken by the Trump Administration have highlighted the need to ensure a strong, consumer-focused CFPB. Financial institutions’ actions during the pandemic have made even more clear the need to pass my Overdraft Protection Act to crack down on predatory overdraft fees and practices.

“I’m proud of the significant impact that Dodd-Frank has made on our financial system and look forward to working with my colleagues to build on this progress.”

HOUSE PASSES OF RESTITUTION FOR SCAM VICTIMS: Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) defended consumers and businesses victimized by scams and fraud this week by voting to pass H.R. 2668, the Consumer Protection and Recovery Act. This legislation restores the authority of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to take lawbreakers to court and recover stolen funds for victims of scam, fraud, and other illegal activities. The agency had exercised this power for more than forty years before the Supreme Court stripped this authority in April 2021.

“The Consumer Protection and Recovery Act will give millions of victims the support they need after scams and frauds,” said Congresswoman Maloney. “This bill restores the power and autonomy of the FTC to fight in court on behalf of victimized consumers and small businesses, and to continue their fight to rightly return billions of dollars to the American people. This legislation represents a crucial step forward in upholding justice. I urge the Senate to vote immediately on this legislation to restore the FTC’s crucial ability to protect consumers.”

For four decades, the FTC fought in court to recover money stolen from consumers and businesses through scams, frauds, and other illegal activities. In the last three years, the FTC has returned more than $11 billion to nearly 10 million consumers across the nation – many of whom are seniors, veterans, and other members of vulnerable communities.

In April 2021, the Supreme Court held that the FTC cannot provide monetary relief to victims, ruling that the Federal Trade Commission Act, as written, did not grant this authority. This legislation amends the Federal Trade Commission Act to provide the FTC the explicit authority to secure monetary relief for victims in court, as well as force bad actors to return their ill-gotten gains.

ORGAN DONATION REFORMED, ‘NOW ACCELERATE’: A coalition of congressional leaders from the Senate Committee on Finance and the House Committee on Oversight and Reform commended the Biden Administration for finalizing a rule to reform the organ procurement system in the United States, and encouraged the administration to explore additional ways to accelerate the accountability of organ procurement organizations (OPOs). The letter, sent to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure was signed by Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore.; Senators Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Ben Cardin, D-Md., Todd Young, R-Ind., Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, Jerry Moran, R-Kan.; House Committee on Oversight and Reform (COR) Committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., and Ranking Member James Comer, R-Ky.; House COR Economic and Consumer Policy Subcommittee Chair Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., and Ranking Member Michael Cloud, R-Texas.; and House COR Member Congresswoman Katie Porter, D-Calif.

“This Final Rule marks a critical first step toward ensuring greater accountability of all 57 OPOs in the United States,” the members wrote, however, “The COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating the need for organs now and creating an urgent health equity issue, as communities of color are disproportionately impacted by the failures of the current organ donation system and the effects of COVID-19.”

The Final Rule takes long overdue steps to hold OPOs accountable, which marks critical progress towards improving the organ transplant system. GAO found that the rule would “increase donation rates and organ transplantation rates by replacing the current outcome measures with new transparent, reliable, and objective outcome measures” and increase competition for control of open organ donation service areas. According to data from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), this rule will save more than 7,000 lives every year. However, in its current form, the Final Rule would not provide for the decertification of failing OPOs until calendar year 2026.

These reforms also have urgent implications for health equity, as failures of the current organ donation system disproportionately hurt patients of color. The members are pushing the administration to explore additional ways to accelerate the impact of the rule as quickly as possible.

“The need to act has only increased over the last 18 months. Some experts project a dramatic increase in the demand for transplants as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic because the virus can cause organ failure in survivors, particularly damage to the kidneys,” the members wrote. “In light of this urgent need, we are concerned about the protracted timeline for enforcement of the OPO rule, which currently does not allow for the decertification of failing OPOs until calendar year 2026. We thank the administration for moving forward with this rule, and ask you to consider additional ways to accelerate its impact to put patients’ interests first, saves lives and reduce racial health disparities.”

CUOMO RAISES AGE OF CONSENT FOR MARRIAGE TO 18: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation (S.3086/A.3891) on July 22 raising the age of consent to be married in New York State to 18. This new measure builds upon legislation eliminating child marriage that the Governor signed in 2017 by removing the ability for 17-year-olds to be married with parental and judicial consent.

“This administration fought hard to successfully end child marriage in New York and I’m proud to sign this legislation to strengthen our laws and further protect vulnerable children from exploitation,” Governor Cuomo said. “Children should be allowed to live their childhood and I thank the many legislators and advocates who worked diligently to advance this measure and further prevent forced marriages in this state.”

This legislation takes effect 30 days after becoming law and will apply to licenses issued after that date and marriages that had not been solemnized prior to that date.

Senator Julia Salazar said, “Regardless of maturity level, minors lack sufficient legal rights and autonomy that they need to protect them if they enter a marriage contract before becoming adults. The vast majority of minors who enter a marriage are teenage girls, and getting married before adulthood often has devastating consequences for them. I thank Governor Cuomo for signing this bill to finally prohibit child marriage without exceptions in New York, and commend the continued work of Unchained At Last in advocating to prohibit child marriage nationwide.”

Assembly Member Phil Ramos said, “The cruel and callous practice of child marriage has traumatized too many children to count. Nalia’s Law, which will raise the age of consent for marriage to 18 and prohibit marriage if either person is underage, is named after one brave survivor of forced child marriage who I was lucky enough to meet. With the passage of this crucial legislation, minors in New York will be further protected from this predatory practice, and we can prevent stories like Nalia’s from repeating themselves.”

BILL PROMOTES HUMAN RIGHTS IN TURKEY: U.S. Representatives Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Liz Cheney (R-WY) introduced the Turkey Human Rights Promotion Act of 2021. The bipartisan, bicameral legislation would assert that the Government of Turkey must uphold the rule of law by taking steps to end arbitrary killings and torture, improve freedom of the press, permit free expression on social media and in person, promote a fair and independent judicial system, protect lawyers and judges and uphold human rights. The legislation will also be introduced in the Senate by Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).

Human rights abuses intensified in Turkey after a 2016 attempted coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Since then, the government cracked down on freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly to silence journalists, political opponents, dissidents, civil society activists and minorities throughout Turkish society, both within and outside of its borders.

“The United States cannot allow human rights abuses to go unanswered, especially from a NATO ally,” said Rep. Jeffries. “We must stand with the Turkish people and demand that President Erdoğan’s government stop the torture and killings, allow for freedom of the press, permit free expression and promote an independent judiciary to uphold the rule of law. I thank Congresswoman Cheney and Senators Markey, Wyden and Merkley for joining me in introducing this important piece of legislation.”

Since 2016, The Government of Turkey has dismissed or suspended more than 60,000 police and military personnel, 125,000 civil servants, one-third of the judiciary, arrested or imprisoned more than 90,000 citizens and closed more than 1,500 nongovernmental organizations on sham charges.

“President Erdogan’s free pass from the Trump White House to commit abuses has officially expired,” said Sen. Markey, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “The United States must speak out forcefully and take steps to hold the Erdogan government accountable for its campaign to silence opposition by censoring social media, clamping down on free speech, and locking away critics.

47 YEARS OF TURKEY’S OCCUPATION OF CYPRUS: Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), co-chair and co-founder of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, on July 21 commemorated 47 years since Turkey illegally invaded Cyprus.

“Forty-seven years ago, Greek Cypriots were forced from their homes, and religious and cultural sites were damaged and destroyed during the illegal Turkish invasion. Nearly five decades later, many still have not been able to return home.

“More than 40,000 soldiers remain on the island, an unacceptable occupation that has oppressed the Cypriot people since 1974. As we continue working toward a stable and reunified Cyprus, I am deeply disturbed by Turkey’s unilateral reopening of Varosha beach in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

“A Cyprus in which Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots can live together in peace, security, and prosperity benefits the United States, the entire Eastern Mediterranean, and most of all Cypriots themselves, who deserve to live free from any Turkish military oppression.”

MALONEY REINTRO’S PASSPORT BACKLOG ELIMINATION ACT: On July 22, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), and Congressman Tim Burchett (R-TN) reintroduced the Passport Backlog Elimination Act, bipartisan legislation to eliminate the passport processing backlog created by the coronavirus pandemic. The members previously introduced the legislation during the 116th Congress.

Recent reports indicate that the current passport backlog is at least 1.5 million applications, and could be as high as 2.2 million applications. According to the State Department website, routine passport service can take up to 18 weeks and expedited service can take up to 12 weeks.

“While the COVID-19 crisis has affected the workflow for countless employees across the country, the passport backlog is particularly troubling. I have heard from hundreds of my constituents who are currently stuck without a valid passport,” said Rep. Maloney. “The State Department needs to be transparent about its plans to process these outstanding passport applications and demonstrate that they are doing everything possible to eliminate this backlog.”

The Passport Backlog Elimination Act:

  • Requires the Secretary of State to submit a plan to eliminate the passport backlog within 30 days after enactment of the legislation.
  • The plan must be implemented within 30 days of submission to Congress, and must include a timeline that ensures processing time is 6-8 weeks for standard applications and 2-3 weeks for expedited applications.
  • Within 6 months of bill enactment, the State Department Inspector General must submit an audit on the effectiveness of the plan to eliminate the backlog.

CANADIAN BORDER OPENS TO VACCINATED U.S. CITIZENS: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo released the following statement on the Canadian border opening to fully vaccinated US citizens on August 9: “The last 16 months have been extremely challenging for everyone, but they’ve been especially difficult for those individuals who were separated from their friends, family and loved ones and for the businesses along the border that have struggled because of the pandemic.

“With vaccination rates continuing to increase every day in both the U.S. and Canada and infection rates remaining low, we are pleased that the Canadian government is finally reopening its borders to fully vaccinated individuals beginning August 9. An open border with our neighbors to the North means families will be reunited once again and much-needed relief for our border communities that depend on cross-border trade and supply chains. This is a significant step in our state and nation’s recovery, and we must continue our work to get even more New Yorkers fully vaccinated so we can put COVID behind us once and for all.”

MILITARY JUSTICE REFORM BILL PASSES SUBCOMMITTEE: Addressing the passage of the Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act (MJIIPA) in the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, the chair of the Personnel Subcommittee, issued the following statement on July 20:

“I am proud and deeply grateful that the Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act (MJIIPA) passed today as an amendment to the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee markup of the National Defense Authorization Act. This is an important step forward for this much-needed legislation, which would deliver true justice to our service members by moving the decision of whether to prosecute sexual assault and other serious non-military crimes out of the chain of command and giving it to trained, professional military prosecutors. This reform is supported by a bipartisan group of sixty-six senators, including the majority of the Senate Armed Services Committee, along with veterans, survivors, and legal experts – any attempt to remove it in full committee will be vigorously opposed. We owe it to our service members to provide a military justice system worthy of their sacrifice.”

Gillibrand offered the MJIIPA as an amendment during today’s Personnel Subcommittee markup of the FY22 National Defense Authorization Act. The amendment passed 5-1, with Senators Hawley (R-MO), Hirono (D-HI), Tuberville (R-AL), and Warren (D-MA) joining Gillibrand. The Personnel Subcommittee markup language will now be included in the full markup of the NDAA.

Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), chairwoman of the SASC Personnel Subcommittee, released the following statement on July 21 following the conclusion of the FY2022 National Defense Authorization Act full committee markup:

“We are proud to announce the committee has put forth a strong bill that makes historic changes to the military justice system and combats the scourge of military sexual assault. We look forward to working together to bring this bill to the Senate floor and making the NDAA law.”

MALONEY URGES CUOMO TO EXPEDITE RENTAL ASSISTANCE: Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) sent a letter to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on July 21 urging him to take whatever steps are necessary to protect renters by quickly processing emergency rental assistance and, if necessary, working to extend the state’s eviction moratorium.

Congresswoman Maloney helped secure approximately $2.3 billion in rental assistance funds for New York in the December 2020 Coronavirus relief package and the American Rescue Plan (ARP). To date, these funds have not yet been disbursed to renters in the state.

As she writes in her letter to Governor Cuomo, “the New York State eviction moratorium expires on August 31, 2021. With the rental assistance program still accepting new applications and not having processed any of the pending applications, I am not confident that funds will be distributed in time to protect the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who are at risk of eviction, causing additional stress for these households.”

Congresswoman Maloney secured a moratorium on all foreclosures and evictions from properties owned, insured, or overseen by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) in March 2020 after making a request to these agencies, in which she was joined by 106 of her House colleagues.

SCHUMER: TENANT RELIEF NOW: Standing with tenants and tenant advocates, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer called on the State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (ODTA) to move heaven and earth to get much-delayed federal rent relief into the pockets of people who need it before it’s too late. Schumer made public a formal letter to the state agency and said the more than $2 billion he secured for the state and tenants—as part of the larger COVID relief bill he pushed through the Senate—cannot be delayed any further and that the program being utilized by the State of New York to get the dollars out needs to be improved immediately to move even faster, especially as the State of New York’s eviction moratorium deadline of August 31st and U.S. Treasury’s mandated date for beginning to reallocate funds at the end of September approaches. As reflected in the data released by the Department of Treasury for the month of June, New York State was one of only two states that had given out $0 in federal rent relief. Today, Schumer is demanding swift action to reverse this deeply concerning status report.

“Thousands and thousands of New York tenants could be deprived of critical rent relief checks if the state doesn’t move more quickly on getting this money out,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer “Today, I am formally asking ODTA to move heaven and earth to fix the mess, pick up the pace and get this federal money out the door before it’s too late for tenants and landlords. The message today is: tenant relief now. No more delay.”

Schumer lamented with tenants and state lawmakers that only a pittance of the federal funds have gone out—in light of vast public pressure. He said it is good the State is finalizing its process for disbursing dollars and some funds are trickling out, but that we will need a waterfall of funds to avoid the looming deadlines, both related to evictions and Treasury mandates at the end of September.

“How it works with federal funds is that if you don’t use them, you could potentially lose them, and that would be very bad,” Schumer added. “New York already sends enough money to the feds. These dollars are meant for New Yorkers. That’s why I fought so hard for them, and our tenants, in the first place.”

“New York State tenants have been suffering since the beginning of this unprecedented pandemic with both an economic and health crisis. The over $2 billion in rent relief that Senator Schumer obtained for tenants and landlords has the potential to be life saving for our clients. However, since the program opened, our clients are experiencing a challenging application process, glitchy website and opaque rules and procedures and almost no money has been paid out. We thank Senator Schumer for his leadership on this issue and call on the state to fix the problems and spend this money,” said Judith Goldiner of the Legal Aid Society.

Schumer explained that these dollars were a hard fight at the federal level and that they were fought for so people who needed them could get the assistance they needed fast to avoid the threat of eviction or overwhelming debt piling up. Schumer said more than 100,000 New York City residents and about 1,000 on Long Island have already applied for these funds and need the dollars flowing and that further delay could cost New York. According to a survey of rent-regulated apartments by the Community Housing Improvement Program, NYC renters owe over a billion dollars in rent. New York lags far behind other states in delivering rent relief, with Texas already having distributed 388 million to 61,100 households, according to the Associated Press.

Nearly half of Americans either missed at least one rent or mortgage payment in 2020 during the pandemic. That amounts to nearly $6,000 in back rent for the average household, according to the Urban Institute. Schumer, today, said New York must immediately fix this issue so that people with rent and utility bills that piled up amid the worst of COVID can make back payments and get back on their feet with landlords and their lives.

MALONEY VOTES TO PROTECT OUR AFGHAN PARTNERS: On July 22, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) voted for H.R. 3985, the ALLIES Act, which will protect Afghan interpreters, contractors, security personnel, and other partners who face deadly retribution by the Taliban for their work with the United States government. This bipartisan legislation will expand and expedite the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) process, which helps Afghan partners and their families safely immigrate to the United States, and is a responsible and necessary action as the U.S. winds down the war in Afghanistan.

“Today, Congress honored the commitment we made to the courageous Afghan interpreters, contractors, and security personnel who worked and fought by our side during the war,” said Rep. Maloney. “These heroes who risked their lives to support U.S. troops now need our help as they face violent retribution from the Taliban. Passing this bill is an urgent step to help our Afghan partners and their families. The ALLIES Act must become law as we continue to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.”

The Afghan SIV program was created in 2009 to offer visas to interpreters, contractors, and security personnel who worked with the U.S. government in Afghanistan who are, as a result, living in fear of violent retribution by the Taliban. Severe delays and backlogs in this program have left numerous applicants waiting years for their visas, and some have been killed before receiving approval. As the U.S. continues to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, ensuring the safety of Afghan SIV applicants and their families must be a priority.

The Averting Loss of Life and Injury by Expediting SIVs (ALLIES) Act, which was introduced by Congressman Jason Crow (D-CO) and the bipartisan Honoring our Promises Working Group, increases the number of available visas by 8,000, eliminates redundant paperwork, and clarifies eligibility standards for the program. This legislation also strengthens protections for surviving spouses and children of deceased SIV applicants, helping more of them retain their SIV eligibility. These changes will help streamline visa processing without compromising the strict background check and vetting procedures in place to protect national security.

AMAZIN’ MTA EMPLOYEES HONORED AT CITI FIELD: Employees and leadership from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) were the focus of a pregame ceremony at Friday night’s (July 23) New York Mets game as part of the team’s Community Hero Ticket program, which honors organizations that have gone above and beyond throughout the pandemic.

MTA LIRR President Phil Eng, Cheif Customer Officer Sarah Meyer and six employees were honored while video and photos of the Authority’s COVID-19 relief efforts were shown on the jumbo screen. The employees had been recommended by their supervisors for dedication to keeping New Yorkers moving throughout the pandemic.

“As a lifelong Mets fan, I’m proud to stand with these heroic employees,” said Phil Eng, Long Islad Rail Road President. “Between the Mets’ mask donations and participation in MTA Mask Force events, the team has been a great partner during the pandemic. Remember that public transit is the best way to get to every game at Citi Field, and Lets go Mets!”

“It’s great to see the city get back to normal and have fans head to Citi Field on public transportation,” said Sarah Meyer, MTA Chief Customer Officer. “MTA employees are ready to take you to the game, and don’t forget your mask while riding–but in case you do, stop by a station booth for a free one, and enjoy the game.”

“MTA workers were the heroes moving heroes during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Alex Cohen, President of the Amazin’ Mets Foundation. “Inviting these frontline workers to be honored at our home game on July 23 is just a small way to show our appreciation for all they have done during this past year and half to keep our community moving forward and be resilient.”

The Mets also provided 30 tickets for MTA employees to see the Amazins’ take on the Toronto Blue Jays.

Leadership Recognized:

  • MTA Chief Customer Officer Sarah Meyer
  • Long Island Rail Road President Phil Eng

Employees Recognized:

  • NYC Transit Bus Operator Luis Jimenez

o    Luis Jimenez considers himself an all-around New York sports fan who remembers meeting members of the Mets the year before they won the World Series in 1986. The 22-year MTA veteran says it was sad to see the city so empty during the height of the pandemic – but he’s glad that seeing the city come back the past few months has given customers the opportunity to thank him and his colleagues for keeping the city moving.

  • LIRR Assistant Terminal Manager Nicole Johnson

o    Nicole Johnson will celebrate 25 years working at the Long Island Rail Road later this summer. The lifelong Mets fan said although it was difficult to work every day during the height of the pandemic, she knew it was necessary to make sure essential workers and first responders could get to work. Johnson wants to remind riders that although the region is opening up, it’s still important to be safe and look out for each other.

  • LIRR Terminal Manager John Kelly

o    John Kelly is a lifelong Mets fan who has worked for the MTA for nearly 20 years. He serves as the LIRR Terminal Manager for facilities including Atlantic Terminal and Jamaica. Kelly says working during the pandemic was challenging since it was so unprecedented – and that his priority was keeping customers and the employees who report to him safe.

  • LIRR Conductor Wesley Lazare

o    Wesley Lazare has worked as an LIRR conductor for 23 years, currently stationed at the West Side Yard. He’s a longtime Mets fan who’s family were season-ticket holders. Lazare says working during the pandemic was difficult since no one knew what to expect, and it’s an experience he’ll tell his grandkids about one day. Now that riders are returning, Lazare says it’s important for everyone to do their part to keep each other safe.

  • NYC Transit Train Operator Mike Sanchez

o    Mike Sanchez has served his city as a Train Operator for just over 14 years and currently drives the Q train. Friday’s game is the second time the lifelong Mets fan has gotten to step on the field for his favorite team, last time at Shea Stadium. Sanchez says it’s been great to see ridership return and the tourists start coming back to the system.

  • LIRR Station Cleaner Tabitha Visser

o    Tabitha Visser has worked at the LIRR’s Jamaica station for just over three years. As a station cleaner, she and her colleagues were responsible for 24/7 disinfecting during the height of the pandemic, and that disinfecting continues today. Visser says it’s been great seeing the smiling faces of old (and new) customers getting back on the trains.

CINEMALIC RETURNS TO HUNTERS POINT SOUTH PARK: Hunters Point Parks Conservancy and Nest Seekers are pleased to announce that CinemaLIC will return to Hunter’s Point South Park for a seventh year in the summer of 2021. This year three movies will be shown in the park, with the season kicking off on Saturday, July 31st with the 2019 version of Disney’s Lion King.

Following that, two classic movies will be screened. Raiders of the Lost Ark will be shown on Thursday, August 26th and Jaws will be shown on Sunday, September 12th. Raiders of the Lost Ark was chosen as 2021 is the 40th anniversary of its release. All movies begin shortly after sundown.

The viewing experience will once again be state of the art, with the Conservancy working with Rooftop Films, who will provide a 30’ inflatable screen with enhanced video projection equipment. This will provide remarkable color, clarity and sound and make for a fantastic experience for all movie goers.

Rob Basch, President of Hunters Point Parks Conservancy, is excited to once again to provide great entertainment to the best movie theatre anywhere. Basch commented, “It has been a challenging year and a half, but nothing says Summer in LIC better than an outdoor movie on the LIC Waterfront. We look forward to seeing everyone’s smiling faces and our community coming together to enjoy some beautiful evenings. Thank you once again to Nest Seekers for their continued support of Cinema LIC.”

The Conservancy is thankful to Nest Seekers for sponsoring this beloved family-friendly program for now their seventh year.

The websites www.cinemalic.com and www.hunterspointparks.org will provide updates on any changes due to weather.

Food and beverages will be available for purchase during the movies at LIC Landing.

The Conservancy would like to reminder moviegoers that if they bring any food or beverages with them, to please remember to clean up after themselves. Alcoholic beverages are not permitted in the park and alcoholic drinks purchased at LIC Landing must be consumed within their licensed premises.

NEW ADVANCED RESEARCH INSTITUTE AT BRONX SCIENCE: City dignitaries broke ground at The Bronx High School of Science for a new Advanced Research Science Institute. The generous donation by Stanley Manne, class of 1952, will have a significant impact on the opportunities available to students at Bronx Science and other high schools. Many alumni of Bronx Science have gone on to make meaningful change throughout our state, including Senators John Liu, Toby Ann Stavisky, and Jamaal Bailey; Assemblymembers Jeffrey Dinowitz and Kenny Burgos; and Councilmembers Ben Kallos, Eric Dinowitz, and Margaret Chin.

Senator Stavisky: “Investing in our students and their future is crucial. The generous gift that Stanley Manne, class of 1952, has given Bronx Science will be life-changing for many. I appreciate Mr. Manne’s support and I am grateful to Bronx Science for providing the education and experience for my generation as well as for our young people to grow, learn and succeed. For example, there have been eight Nobel laureates from Science and this research facility may well produce a ninth.”

Senator Liu: “Stanley Manne achieved tremendous success in science and business but came back to Bronx Science to pay it back, tearfully explaining to all that he always remembered where he came from as he announced his intentions for the school with this unprecedented gift. Mr. Manne’s generosity will further cement Science HS as an incubator for teen invention and discovery in science, and create opportunities for public school students from all throughout New York City, especially the Bronx. The Manne Institute is destined to be a world-class research facility, led by the brightest minds of New York City public school kids.”

NYCHA RESIDENTS’ ‘NOW-OR-NEVER MOMENT’: U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, Assembly Member Khaleel M. Anderson, Congressman Gregory Meeks, and local elected officials toured Oceanside Houses to highlight critically needed investments in public housing. They visited residents who have experienced leaks, mold, and gas outages in their homes and they heard first-hand about the dire conditions they are faced with. Schumer and Anderson pointed to the unacceptable conditions seen on the tour as stark evidence of the desperate need for action.

Senator Schumer and Assembly Member Anderson pushed for an $80-plus billion dollar investment in federal public housing funds via the just-proposed American Jobs Plan. Schumer and Anderson said, after decades of disinvestment, bad management and federal neglect, NYCHA and all its residents face a now-or-never moment to secure critically-needed investments via the American Jobs Plan. They said the administration’s plan calls for $40 billion dollars for the whole nation—but that number is just not enough given the mammoth needs of public housing properties across the country, particularly here in New York. Schumer and Anderson said they are going to fight to double down on that proposal to ensure that it is at least $80 billion dollars as he details NYCHA’s repair backlog, years of can-kicking and deferred investments that have left tenants frustrated.

“For far too long, our public housing infrastructure needs have been left unaddressed, left to get worse, and have brought serious harm to hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “Lead in the bodies of our children. Toxic mold in the lungs of our friends and neighbors. Leaky roofs. Dilapidated playgrounds. Non-working elevators. Unsafe environments. Polluting and expensive boilers and heating systems. The maddening list goes on and on.”

Schumer and Anderson explained that on March 31st, The Biden Administration unveiled the big and bold American Job Plan, which calls for ‘reimagining and rebuilding’ a new economy. Included in the plan, was a $40 billion dollar investment in public housing capital needs. The White House acknowledged the need to address longstanding public housing capital needs, a long fought effort of both Schumer and Anderson. Also acknowledged was “years of disinvestment” that has “left our public housing in disrepair.”

The American Jobs Plan called on Congress to invest $40 billion to improve the infrastructure of the public housing system in America. The funding “will address critical life-safety concerns, mitigate imminent hazards to residents, and undertake energy efficiency measures which will significantly reduce ongoing operating expenses. The improvements will disproportionately benefit women, people of color, and people with disabilities.”

Schumer and Anderson, today, applauded the push and said $40 billion is not “chump change,” but the lawmakers made the case to at least double the investment, using NYCHA as backdrop to make the case.

When it comes to getting the work done, Schumer explained, “We need to put our great union workers from Teamster 237 and DC 37 and the building trades to work executing and accomplishing this transformation of NYCHA.”

More than 400,000 New Yorkers reside in NYCHA’s 326 public housing developments across the City’s five boroughs.

—With contributions by Annette Hanze Alberts

This column was originated by John A. Toscano

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