I On Politics | Queens Gazette
J&J VAX ‘ON PAUSE’: New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker released the following statement regarding the Johnson & Johnson vaccine: “Today the CDC and FDA issued a statement recommending a pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine out of an abundance of caution. New York State will follow the CDC and FDA recommendation and pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine statewide immediately today (April 13) while these health and safety agencies evaluate next steps.” All appointments for Johnson & Johnson vaccines that day at New York State mass vaccination sites were honored with the Pfizer vaccine.
“As the CDC and FDA have said, any adverse events related to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine ‘appear to be extremely rare’ and, ‘People who have received the J&J vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider.’
|“I am in constant contact with the federal government and we will update New Yorkers as more information becomes available.”|
MALONEY TO FAUCI: WHAT’S NEXT? At the April 15 Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing entitled “Reaching the Light at the End of the Tunnel: A Science-Driven Approach to Swiftly and Safely Ending the Pandemic,” Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, asked health experts what steps the country needs to take in order to end the COVID-19 pandemic as quickly as possible.
During her exchange with Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health and President Biden’s chief medical adviser, Rep. Maloney asked, “When do you think the designation of a pandemic will be changed, and it will no longer be considered a pandemic?”
In response to the Congresswoman, Dr. Fauci said, “Well, there are multiple definitions of pandemic. The one that’s most commonly used is an outbreak of a disease, of infectious disease, that’s highly transmissible and involves multiple regions of the world simultaneously. You can have an outbreak in one place, like right now they’re having a mini epidemic of Ebola in countries in Africa. That’s not a pandemic by any means, because it’s no place else. But if you look at a map of the world, you have now over 120 countries that have this [COVID-19] disease. So ‘pan’ means all. When you get it down to the point where it’s restricted to very few places, and you have countries, hopefully the United States, hopefully a lot of other countries in the world are free of this, then it’s no longer a pandemic.”
Congresswoman Maloney continued, saying, “And what are the key steps we have to take to make that happen faster, hopefully, besides vaccinations?”
Dr. Fauci responded, “Well there are a couple of things we can do. One is, until you get people fully vaccinated, and get it under control, where it is no longer a threat, it’s the public health measures that we talk about almost every single day. The wearing of masks, the physical distancing, the avoiding congregate settings, the washing of hands. When the vaccine protection takes over, then you could have a gradual diminution of those types of guideline restrictions.”
$33M OWED TO SCHOOLS FINALLY COMING: Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris announced the newly-enacted state budget would include additional funding of $33 million dollars for schools in western Queens. The money comes in the form of additional Foundation Aid owed to school districts across the state as the result of a long-standing Court of Appeals decision. New York City as a whole will receive an additional $11.9 billion owed to schools since 2006.
“This year’s budget is a moral document that reflects our values and our desire to rebuild in a way that leaves no one behind – especially our children,” said Senator Gianaris. “We have been fighting for years to adequately support our schoolchildren and I am thrilled our budget includes this long-denied funding. I am especially proud that $33 million additional dollars will be making their way to western Queens communities.”
Schools in western Queens are owed more than $33 million. Specific area schools are owed the funds based on existing formulas. Aid is distributed to schools on a monthly basis beginning in September.
The Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) was created when parents filed a lawsuit against the State of New York claiming that children were not being provided a sound, basic education as required by the State Constitution. In 2006, the New York State Court of Appeals ruled in CFE’s favor, and found that New York State was violating students’ Constitutional rights by shortchanging them of the funding necessary to meet these educational requirements. As a result, schools statewide should have received a $5.5 billion increase in basic operating aid (also known as Foundation Aid) over the course of a four-year phase-in from 2007 to 2011.
The Foundation Aid formula was created in response to the ruling to distribute aid based on student need so as to create an equitable education system for all students.
Jasmine Gripper, Executive Director of the Alliance for Quality Education said, “Thanks to the leadership of the NYS Senate Democrats, students in Queens and all over New York City will receive a historic investment in their education. This monumental infusion of resources to our schools will ensure that students have access to the opportunities they need to succeed. This funding will enable schools to reduce class sizes, hire more counselors and increase academic support for students.”
Dr. Philip Composto, District 30 Superintendent said, “Working with students from District 30, I know this funding is sorely needed in our schools and at this unprecedented time now more than ever we need resources. Senator Gianaris has always supported our schools and advocated for our fair share of Foundation Aid and I am pleased that New York’s students will be receiving the funds they are owed.”
$4.4M FOR FLOATING HOSPITAL: On April 17, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) joined Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and community leaders to announce the $4,320,500 she secured for the Floating Hospital in the American Rescue Plan. The resources are part of the American Rescue Plan’s investments to expand health services and access to COVID-19 vaccines in underserved communities.
The Floating Hospital can use the funding to expand COVID-19 vaccinations, testing, and treatment for vulnerable populations; deliver preventive and primaryhealthcare services to people at higher risk for COVID-19; and expand health centers’ operational capacity during the pandemic and beyond, including by modifying and improving physical infrastructure and adding mobile units.
“I am so glad to say that we have finally turned a corner in recovering from this crisis. With safe and effective vaccines and every single New Yorker over the age of 16 eligible to receive one, I am hopeful and optimistic about our city’s future. But we wouldn’t be here without organizations like the Floating Hospital, whose incredible staff stepped up and stepped in as the COVID-19 crisis bore down on our city,” said Congresswoman Maloney. “Even in the face of staff and revenue shortages, the Floating Hospital has continued to provide life-saving care to underserved communities and played a pivotal and indelible role in our response to the COVID-19 crisis. They have insure that everyone – especially those in typically underserved communities – got the help they needed and deserved. I’m thrilled to report that to aid them in continuing this lifesaving work, the American Rescue Plan includes more than $4.3 million dollars for the Floating Hospital.”
$26M FOR FIRST RESPONDERS, ESSENTIAL WORKERS: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced on April 16 that applications are now being accepted for the $26.6 million available to support essential workers and first responders through the Empire Pandemic Response Reimbursement Fund program. The program, coordinated by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, is designed to reimburse out-of-pocket child or dependent care, transportation, lodging and other qualifying expenses that eligible workers incurred while employed in New York State between March 1, 2020, through the date of application submission. Up to $1,000 is available per household. The funding comes from private donations from individuals, charitable trusts and businesses made during the COVID crisis.
“From day one of the COVID-19 pandemic, New York’s essential workers and first responders did their jobs so the rest of us could stay safe. Their brave and selfless service to New Yorkers will never be forgotten and we must ensure we support them in the midst of unique transportation, lodging and child care challenges,” Governor Cuomo said. “The Empire Pandemic Response Reimbursement Fund will reimburse essential workers for important living expenses they’ve incurred while keeping the rest of us safe, and I encourage all eligible New Yorkers to apply for funding now.”
Qualifying applicants include first responders, health care workers and many multi-industry essential workers. Eligible workers can apply on their own or be referred to the application by employers, unions or social service providers who employed them during the COVID emergency. Families who earn up to 500 percent of the federal poverty level – or $125,470 for a family of four – are eligible to apply for the funds to cover expenses.
The Empire Pandemic Response Reimbursement Fund is a non-competitive application. Applicants who meet the eligibility criteria and who submit the required income documentation and had eligible expenses will be awarded up to $1,000 to reimburse out-of-pocket costs incurred while responding to COVID-19 that have not been reimbursed by another source. Awards will be made on a first-come, first-served basis until funding is exhausted. The maximum reimbursement amount is $1,000 per household. Applications and grant opportunity instructions are available at ocfs.ny.gov/main/news/COVID-relief.
VETS TO RECEIVE $1,400 ARP NOW: Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) announced that many New Yorkers who receive veterans’ benefits can expect their Economic Impact Payments of up to $1,400 to hit their bank accounts via election payments starting now. More than 11 million New Yorkers are eligible for this payment, including 838,000 veterans, as part of the American Rescue Plan that Congresswoman Maloney helped pass.
The latest round of payments applies specifically to veterans and their beneficiaries who receive Compensation and Pension (C&P) benefit payments and who don’t normally file a tax return.
“Help is finally here for New York’s veterans, and I want to ensure everyone eligible receives the money provided by the America Rescue Plan that is rightfully theirs,” said Rep. Maloney. “I encourage all New York veterans to follow the necessary steps to ensure they receive this much needed assistance. If you or loved one is a veteran who qualifies for this payment and is having difficulty receiving it, please reach out to my office for help.”
Most payments will be automatically deposited into banks accounts or loaded onto the Direct Express cards where veterans receive their benefits. Those waiting on paper checks or debit cards through the mail should expect to receive their payments over the next several days.
In most cases, these payments are automatic, and no action is necessary to receive them.
How to Check the Status of your Payment: Veterans, and all eligible New Yorkers, can go online to check the status of their payment using the “Get My Payment” tool at: www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment.
How Many New Yorkers Will Get Payments: According to the White House, more than 11,344,500 adults and 4,403,300 children in New York are eligible to receive payments of up to $1,400 per person through the American Rescue Plan. That means 82% percent of all New York adults and children are set to receive payments.
‘IMPLEMENT POSTAL BANKING’: U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and U. S. Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), and Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) called on Congress on April 15 to implement postal banking pilot programs in rural and urban communities across the country as part of the Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) Senate and House Financial Services and General Government Appropriations (FSGG) Appropriations Bill and eventual final conference agreement. The lawmakers also pushed for $6 million in funding for USPS in FY22 to carry out the pilot programs to expand non-bank financial services offerings.
“Mainstream financial institutions and predatory lenders often take advantage of underbanked Americans, with high fees and interest rates that keep them in a cycle of poverty. As families across the country try to recover from the economic crisis, establishing postal banking pilot programs would ensure these communities have financially safe and reliable banking services,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Expanding basic financial services at post offices in both rural and urban communities would help families who know just how expensive it is to be poor in America. This pilot program takes important steps to help struggling Americans and reintroduce widespread postal banking.”
“So many families in my community in the Bronx can’t afford to be banked. So instead, they go into check cashing places and pay relatively large fees – money that’s desperately needed for food, rent and diapers. Others go the ATM, and sometimes they can only afford to take out $5, but they’re paying $3 in fees. What we are asking the Post Office to do here is very basic – check cashing, money wiring, and taking out money from an ATM without a penalty – but it’ll make a dramatic difference in so many communities and so many families. It’ll also provide needed revenue to USPS,” said Rep. Ocasio-Cortez.
“Postal banking is that rare issue in our politics today that can unite both Democrats and Republicans, urban and rural Americans alike,” said Rep. Pascrell. “Millions of Americans at the mercy of predatory payday lenders further cements the economic inequality tearing our nation apart. With branches in every zip code – from Paterson, New Jersey, to Key West, Florida, to Barrow, Alaska – postal reach opens a world of opportunity to bridge the gap. The current Post Office leadership has failed miserably and must be replaced to begin the work of rebuilding our beloved Post Office. But postal banking is essential to that rebuilding and will help this beloved institution flourish into the next century. Postal banking must be part of American’s future.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated all too well that too many Americans are being left behind by the current financial system led by Wall Street bankers and rapacious payday lenders,” said Rep. Kaptur. “As the economy was plummeting and unemployment soared in 2020, the U.S. Congress moved swiftly to provide relief through economic stimulus payments, unemployment insurances, and so much more – yet many who needed the assistance the most lacked the most basic banking services to access these funds. The U.S. postal service is perfectly positioned to offer more financial services to every zip code: rural, urban, and suburban. It’s clear that we must act now to reestablish postal banking services.”
Millions of Americans live in ‘bank deserts’ — regions without immediate access to a brick and mortar bank — and nearly 63 million Americans are considered underbanked. Ninety percent of the zip codes lacking a bank or credit union are in rural areas. However, low income communities of color are also historically underserved by mainstream financial services — approximately 46% of Latino households and 49% of African American households are underbanked.
As families struggle to recover from the economic crisis caused by the pandemic, postal banking will be a critical tool to help Americans overcome financial strain. Postal Banking programs would provide essential banking services to low-income households and rural communities and safe financial alternatives to predatory financial services such as prepaid debit cards, rent-to-own stores, and overdraft fees. Instead of turning to these predatory services, families struggling to make ends meet would gain access to traditional basic banking services through the postal bank pilot program.
Additionally, establishing permanent postal banking services would strengthen the Postal Service by creating a nonprofit bank that offers low-cost checking and savings accounts, ATMs, mobile banking, and low-interest loans. According to a report from the USPS Inspector General, this proposal would create $9 billion in revenue for the Postal Service each year. Senators Gillibrand and Sanders are lead Senate sponsors of the Postal Banking Act, legislation that would establish permanent essential financial services in post offices in every community.
RALLY AGAINST HATE: “New York City has stalled in its recovery in the aftermath of the pandemic’s limitations. Lawlessness has persisted and remains out of control throughout various regions of the City. Random attacks against minorities, specifically of Asian-American descent and of Jewish lineage have become part of the norm and force citizens of New York City to lead their lives with a sense of fear and the potential for erratic harm,” said Avi Cyperstein who joined City Council Member Robert Holden and District Leader and co-founder of the Queens Coalition for Solidarity Ethan Felder, to shed light on recent attacks and call for a plan of action to end hatred against various racial and ethnic backgrounds.
Unprovoked incidents as recent as Saturday afternoon have plagued the borough of Queens where a Jewish man was beaten in Rego Park. “The aggressors generally have little concern for age or gender and instill terror in a City trying to recover,” Cyperstein added.
The rally held on the steps of Queens Borough Hall called for an end to all forms of hatred and bigotry and stressed the need for a new form of leadership for the City of New York.
City Council Member Robert Holden said, “The slogans like ‘Stop The Hate’ are great, but they have to be backed up, especially with regards to mental health. This hits home, as my wife was born in Japan – she is Asian American. I witnessed the hate against her when someone called her an Asian slur. It’s been constant for my over 47 years of marriage; if anyone says the hate is recent, it’s really just being publicized more, and we are still not dealing with it. It is paramount that we take care of the mental health issues.”
Cyperstein said, “None of us should ever have to fear for our safety, especially in our own neighborhood. There is no excuse for violence against a Jew, just for being a Jew, or against an Asian for being an Asian, or against a Black person, just for being a Black person, or a person just for being a person. Sadly and painfully the constant hostility is a continuation of the hate attacks happening across our city especially in the Asian and Jewish communities. Hate against one community is an attack against all communities. We cannot let this spread. We must stop this virus now.”
District Leader Felder said, “So many in our community are living in a state of fear walking on our streets by themselves without a family member to watch over them and that is just not a tolerable situation to be in. It is not something we can accept; it’s not who we are in the most diverse borough in the world. Our diversity here in Queens is our strength.”
CUOMO SIGNS AFFORDABLE INTERNET: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation on April 16 establishing the first-in-the-nation requirement for affordable internet for qualifying low-income families, as proposed in the 2021 State of the State. This legislation requires providers operating in New York State to offer $15/month high-speed internet to low-income families across the state. New Yorkers qualifying for this affordable internet program include households who are eligible or receiving free or reduced-price lunch, supplemental nutrition assistance program benefits, Medicaid benefits, the senior citizen or disability rent increase exemptions, or an affordability benefit from a utility. It also requires providers to report to the Public Service Commission annually on their offers and uptake.
“High-speed internet is essential to our everyday lives, and as we continue to reopen our state and adjust to new norms that have been shaped by the pandemic, we need to make sure every household has access to affordable internet,” Governor Cuomo said. “Remote learning, remote working, and telemedicine are not going away. This program, the first of its kind in the nation, will ensure that no New Yorker will have to forego having reliable home internet service and no child’s education will have to suffer due to their economic situation.”
Affordability is a key issue in the fight for universal broadband, as many families cannot afford to pay for broadband service in their homes. A basic high-speed internet plan, on average, costs more than $50 per month. Nationwide, 43% of those earning less than $30,000 are not connected to internet at home, and 26% of those making $30,000 to $50,000 remain unconnected at home. It closes to 8% unconnected for those making $75,000 or more. Meanwhile, nationwide only 66 percent of Black households, 61 percent of Hispanic households, and 53 percent of Native Americans living on tribal lands are connected to internet at home, compared to 79 percent of White households.
To further bridge the internet gap in New York, the State has partnered with Schmidt Futures and the Ford Foundation to launch ConnectED NY, an emergency fund to provide approximately 50,000 students in economically disadvantaged school districts with free internet access through June 2022.
In addition, Governor Cuomo launched the Affordable Broadband Portal to help New Yorkers find the affordable broadband programs in their area. This website also includes critical information about the FCC’s Emergency Broadband Benefit Program ($50/month subsidy for broadband service, plus a one-time discount of up to $100 on computers and tablets).
Furthermore, New York State will conduct an in-depth statewide mapping study of broadband to identify the availability, reliability and cost of high-speed broadband services and report on its findings within one year. This study will map the quality, not just the availability, of coverage. This is part of the State’s effort to make broadband accessible and affordable for all.
‘DOUBLE NYCHA PROPOSAL TO $80B’: In a major announcement alongside a broad collation of housing advocates, tenants, and electeds, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer unveiled on April 18 a push for at least an $80 billion dollar investment in federal public housing funds via the just-proposed American Jobs Plan. Schumer 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.
Schumer 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 said he is going to fight to at least double that proposal to $80 billion dollars as he detailed NYCHA’s repair backlog, years of can-kicking, Republican-led federal disinvestment and delays 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 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 Schumer’s. Also acknowledged was “years of disinvestment’ that has “left our public housing in disrepair.”
Schumer applauded the push and said $40 billion is ‘not chump change,’ but the Senator made the case to at least double the investment. 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.
‘SAFE CLOSURE OF INDIAN POINT’: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced on April 15 a joint proposal with Holtec International and its subsidiaries to safely close the Indian Point nuclear power facility in the lower Hudson Valley. The agreement, negotiated by the State of New York, County of Westchester, local governments, Public Utility Law Project, Riverkeeper, Entergy — the owner of Indian Point and Holtec, provides for a transfer of the nuclear power facility to Holtec for a swift, complete and safe decommissioning and site remediation.
The joint proposal, which is now available for public comment, is slated to be reviewed and considered by the State Public Service Commission during a future session.
“Since my time as Attorney General I have been deeply concerned with the safety of the Indian Point nuclear power facility given its proximity to the most densely populated area in the country,” Governor Cuomo said. “Shuttering Indian Point was, at one time, one of the main progressive causes in New York, and after years of relentless work, we’ve finally reached an agreement to close it safely and responsibly. This is a victory for the health and safety of New Yorkers, and moves us a big step closer to reaching our aggressive clean energy goals.”
In 2017, Entergy – the owner of Indian Point – agreed with Governor Cuomo to close the two remaining operating units at the site. Unit 2 powered down in April 2020, and Unit 3 is scheduled to cease operations this month.
Decommissioning, the radiological clean-up and dismantling of a nuclear facility, is extremely demanding, both technically and financially. Accordingly, the NRC requires that nuclear facilities establish and maintain funding to pay for facility decommissioning following closure. In the case of Indian Point, portions of its three decommissioning trusts were capitalized by New York ratepayers through electricity bills. Holtec obtained the NRC’s approval to use the trust money, not only to conduct the required radiological decommissioning, but also to fund spent fuel management and site restoration. Of the approximately $2.4 billion of aggregated decommissioning trust funds, Holtec estimated that it will spend more than $630 million for spent fuel management alone, which raised concerns whether the remaining funds were adequate to conduct safe and comprehensive decommissioning at a site known to harbor substantial contamination.
FEMA FUNERAL ASSISTANCE LAUNCHED: U.S. Senator Charles Schumer and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez formally launched the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) hotline on April 12 to help pay for the funeral and burial of COVID-hit families. Schumer and Ocasio-Cortez explained how New York families can apply for these dollars and the items they need to submit to FEMA. They said that families across New York, particularly those in communities of color and low-income communities like Corona, which was the epicenter of the crisis early on, have already paid the ultimate price amid the pandemic and that these special FEMA funds will help alleviate some of the pain of being unable to afford or give a proper burial and funeral to a loved one.
“Too many families and friends across New York have paid the ultimate price with the tragic loss of their loved ones to the coronavirus. The economic upheaval and added financial strain of this pandemic makes the added cost of funerals and burials unbearable for so many who have already lost so much. This historic use of FEMA’s funeral assistance program is much needed aid to those who need it most,” said Senator Schumer.
“This effort began over a year ago when community leaders in NY-14 flagged the disparate impact of COVID-19 in working-class areas, compounded with the devastating economic impact of funeral expenses. I’m so relieved that soon our families will finally be able to access relief, and I’m grateful to FEMA for working with Senator Schumer and I to make this program inclusive, generous and easily accessible,” said Rep. Ocasio-Cortez.
Schumer and Ocasio-Cortez also explained that they were able to increase the maximum financial assistance to $9,000 per funeral and that the hotline to apply for fed funds is: 844-684-6333. Additionally, FEMA will only award COVID-19 Funeral Assistance for a deceased individual on a single application. If multiple individuals contributed toward funeral expenses, they should register under a single application as applicant and co-applicant. The applicant or co-applicant must have incurred the funeral expenses. The deceased individual’s documentation status is not considered as part of the reimbursement process, but the applicant(s) must be U.S. citizens, legal residents, asylees, refugees, or non-citizen nationals.
TEMPORARY ACCESS TO MIFEPRESTONE: Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Committee Member Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus’s Abortion Rights and Access Task Force, issued the following statement in response to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) decision to temporarily lift the medically unnecessary in-person dispensing requirement for mifepristone for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency:
“We are pleased that the FDA has temporarily lifted the in-person dispensing requirement for mifepristone, which will allow people seeking medication abortion to access this critical drug safely during this public health emergency. For too long, this requirement and other medically unnecessary restrictions have created barriers for people seeking medication abortion care. But this is just a first step. While the coronavirus crisis has exacerbated the harm of these restrictions, the danger they pose to people seeking care existed well before the pandemic and will remain long after we have overcome it. It is imperative the federal government make every effort to protect and expand access to safe, legal abortion in the United States—including by permanently eliminating outdated, ideological restrictions on medication abortion care.”
On February 9, Chairwoman Maloney and Committee Member Pressley led all Democratic Committee congresswomen in sending a letter asking the FDA to lift the medically unnecessary in-person dispensing requirement for mifepristone—a prescription medication that has been used to safely end early pregnancies in the United States for more than two decades.
ENDING TITLE X ‘GAG RULE’: New York Attorney General Letitia James applauded the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to end the Trump Administration’s discriminatory Title X “gag rule,” after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services proposed a new rule to revise the Title X family planning program regulations. In March 2019, Attorney General James co-led a coalition of 22 attorneys general in challenging the Trump Administration regulation that threatens essential services provided under federal Title X funding. The Trump-era rule restricts health care providers who receive certain federal funds from counseling or making referrals for abortion.
“This new, proposed rule from the Biden-Harris Administration underscores their commitment to protecting reproductive rights of patients across the nation,” said Attorney General James. “Quite simply, the Trump Administration’s Title X ‘gag rule’ was a war on reproductive freedom and prevented more than 1 million people across the country from obtaining access to quality, affordable health coverage. And as we continue to battle COVID-19, access to health care has never been more vital. We look forward to continuing to work with the Biden-Harris Administration to undo all the harms of the gag rule and expand health coverage for all.”
Attorney General James’ lawsuit eventually landed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which upheld the Trump-era rule. Attorney General James then led the coalition, in October 2020, in filing a petition that asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case. Separately, in May 2020, Attorney General James led another coalition of 19 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in a different lawsuit, brought by the city of Baltimore, against the Trump Administration’s Title X rule. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit struck down the rule, and the Trump Administration filed its own petition asking the Supreme Court to hear the case. In March 2021, the coalitions in both cases joined with the Biden-Harris Administration to ask the Supreme Court to dismiss both cases, while the current administration acts to rescind and replace the rule.
BLACK MATERNAL HEALTH WEEK: U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced two vital pieces of legislation to address the Black maternal health crisis during Black Maternal Health week. The Modernizing Obstetric Medicine Standards (MOMS) Act, would expand the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM) program, which develops standardized maternal safety best practices to prevent maternal mortality and morbidity, and would establish a new grant program to provide states and hospitals with the resources and training needed to implement the best practices to prevent maternal death and complications before, during, and after childbirth.
Gillibrand also announced the Maternal CARE Act, which would support states in their work to end preventable morbidity and mortality in maternity care by creating two new grants programs. The first is a competitive grant program for schools educating the health workforce to create training programs to address implicit bias in the health care system, in particular the areas of obstetrics and gynecology. The second establishes funding for a demonstration project to assist up to 10 states with implementing and sustaining pregnancy medical home (PMH) programs to incentivize maternal health care providers to deliver integrated health care services to pregnant women and new mothers with the aim of reducing maternal deaths and racial health disparities. U.S. Representative Alma Adams (D-NC) is the House lead of the Maternal CARE Act.
“Black mothers in the United States are facing a public health crisis due to deep systemic racial inequities and Congress has a moral responsibility to act,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Childbirth should be safe for all, but for too many Black mothers navigating prenatal and postpartum care, keeping themselves and their infants safe is a gamble. I am proud to introduce the MOMS Act and the Maternal CARE Act, which will help our nation finally begin to heal these preventable tragedies with quality, evidence-based care to protect Black mothers during pregnancy, childbirth, and on their postpartum journeys.”
The United States continues to have the highest rate of maternal mortality in the developed world, driven in large part by the high mortality rates among Black mothers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the U.S. about 700 women die each year due to a complication before, during and after childbirth. These issues disproportionately impact Black women, who are two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women. Despite the high number of pregnancy and childbirth complications, CDC studies have found that two out of three of all reported deaths were preventable.
EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK: Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), House sponsor of the Equal Rights Amendment and Chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, on April 15 spoke on the House floor to urge all her colleagues to support H.R. 7, the Paycheck Fairness Act, ahead of that day’s vote.
Congresswoman Maloney has long been a proponent of equal pay for equal work. In 2016, she released the Gender Pay Inequality: Consequences for Women, Families and the Economy report as Ranking Member of the Joint Economic Committee (JEC). On March 24, 2021, she chaired a Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing, Honoring ‘Equal Pay Day’: Examining the Long-Term Economic Impacts of Gender Inequality.
The Congresswoman’s floor remarks, as delivered, are below.
“On average, women are paid just 82 cents for every dollar paid to men. The gap is even larger—almost double—for women of color. Compounded over a lifetime, the pay gap becomes a wealth tax, costing women thousands and thousands of dollars lost in wages. Longstanding workplace discrimination sets women back in pay and benefits, hiring, and promotions.
“Closing the pay gap will provide more financial stability for women—especially those who are hardest hit by the pandemic. At a recent Oversight [Committee] hearing on Equal Pay Day, soccer superstar Megan Rapinoe testified, and I quote, ‘One cannot simply outperform inequality.’ Combatting pay discrimination requires deliberate action—and that is what the Paycheck Fairness [Act] does. I urge a ‘yes’ vote on this important bill.”
The bill passed the House in a roll call vote that day, by 217 to 210.
BILL EXPANDS FAMILY LEAVE PROTECTIONS: U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY-12), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, and U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced legislation on April 15 that would modernize the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for the 21st Century. The Family Medical Leave Modernization Act will guarantee small necessities leave and make important updates to the definition of family to ensure a broader range of caregiving relationships are covered by FMLA’s protections.
In 2020, 45 percent of family caregivers reported that they experienced at least one financial impact due to their caregiving responsibilities, and 53 percent of caregivers reported having to go in late, leave early, or take time off from work to provide care for a family member. Additionally, 49 percent of family caregivers who left the workforce entirely reported doing so in order to have more time to care for a relative, with 15 percent specifically stating their work did not allow flexible hours.
“Our family and medical leave policies need to reflect what American families actually look like in 2021 and expand to match the needs of 21st century families,” said Congresswoman Maloney. “I’m proud to once again join with Sen. Durbin to introduce this bill to do just that.”
The Family Medical Leave Modernization Act would:
- Update the FMLA’s definition of family to include a domestic partner, parent-in-law, aunt, uncle, sibling, adult child, grandparent, grandchild, son- or daughter-in-law, and other significant relationships; and
- Guarantee that parents and other family caregivers have the ability to take time off to attend a medical appointment or school function, such as a parent-teacher conference, without risk of losing their job.
Joining Congresswoman Maloney as cosponsors on the House version of the Family Medical Leave Modernization Act from New York is Rep. Grace Meng.
Family caregiving needs have changed dramatically in recent years and are expected to increase in the coming years. By 2034, adults over the age of 65 are projected to outnumber children in the United States for the first time in history. Already, 7.8 million children live in households led by a grandparent or other relative. As family structures change and caregiving needs increase, so should the laws designed to help these families.
Roughly 53 million family members, partners, or friends provide care to adults in the United States, with 61 percent of family caregivers also working. Many caregivers provide support to both children and an aging family member. Women compose roughly 61 percent of caregivers, and approximately 58 percent of those women are also employed. Women who are family caregivers face significant challenges, including loss of retirement savings and lower potential lifetime earnings. Women caregivers are also 2.5 times more likely to live in poverty.
EXPAND SUMMER MEAL PROGRAM: On April 16, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced legislation to expand summer meal programs across the country to ensure children maintain access to nutritious meals when school is out. The COVID-19 pandemic, and subsequent switch to remote learning, exacerbated the challenges that food insecure students face when schools are closed. The Summer Meals Act would improve the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Summer Food Service Program, which provides low-income children – who would normally receive free or reduced lunch during the school year – with nutritious meals during the summer, after school, and when school is closed for vacations or emergencies. The bill would expand eligibility and participation for summer meal programs, facilitate program administration, and improve access to these critical programs in hard to reach areas, including rural and underserved communities. Gillibrand and Murkowski are calling for the inclusion of the Summer Meals Act in the upcoming Child Nutrition Reauthorization currently being negotiated by the Senate Agriculture Committee.
According to Feeding America, 22 million kids rely on the National School Lunch Program for free and reduced-price meals. However, during summer vacations and when school is closed for emergencies, many students lose access to daily, healthy meals. Currently, less than 4 million students receive meals from the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program.
Gillibrand and Murkowski’s Summer Meals Act would help close the gap for the 18 million children who risk going hungry when school is out. The legislation would allow more children to have access to summer meals, and expand flexibility for schools and students to participate in the program.
GILLIBRAND INTRO’S DOJ NOMINEE: On April 14, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand introduced Kristen Clarke, nominee for Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights ahead of her confirmation hearing. “If confirmed, Ms. Clarke will bring the knowledge, experience, and leadership the Civil Rights Division needs to meet the challenges that lie ahead, and, as she has said – to make the promise of ‘justice for all’ a reality,” said Gillibrand during opening remarks. Extracts from her full remarks as prepared follow:
“At this moment in time, when we are seeing an unprecedented assault on voting rights, a horrifying rise in bigotry, racism, and anti-Semitism, and a growing national conversation on criminal justice, it could not be more important for the Civil Rights Division to have a leader with the experience and qualifications to begin addressing these challenges from day one.
“Ms. Clarke is that leader. She is the right person for this job and this moment. Ms. Clarke first became interested in civil rights law on a high school field trip to watch the arguments in Sheff v. O’Neill, a Connecticut school desegregation case. And she has spent her entire professional life in public service working in virtually every area of civil rights. Her career began in the DOJ Honors Program as a trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division during the Bush Administration, where she served for nearly six years. If confirmed, Ms. Clarke would return to the Division as the first woman and only the fourth Black leader confirmed in its 64-year history.
“Throughout her career she has: litigated voting rights cases at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund; led the New York Attorney General’s Civil Rights Bureau; and served as the President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, one of the nation’s oldest civil rights legal organizations.
“Ms. Clarke has experience standing up to hate. She led the team that won a $700,000 verdict against the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer over its harassment campaign targeting the first Black female student body president of American University, and she has worked closely with the families of Emmett Till, Matthew Shepard, James Byrd, Heather Heyer, and more.
“She has experience protecting religious minorities. As the chief of New York State’s Civil Rights Bureau, she led the unit that fought religious discrimination and defended Jewish employees’ right to observe their faith.
“And she has experience protecting voting rights. She has become one of the nation’s leading voting rights lawyers, representing voters in the Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder case before it reached the Supreme Court, and working on the 2006 bipartisan reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act.
“Ms. Clarke has also worked to: ensure that families and vulnerable communities have access to fair housing opportunities; to protect the rights of people with disabilities; and to obtain justice for women in the workplace, winning a 3.8 million dollar settlement for close to 300 women in a gender discrimination and sexual harassment case against Con Edison.
“And, she has worked to build bridges between the legal and law enforcement communities. She has worked directly with hundreds of the nation’s leading law firms, thousands of lawyers, the FBI, ATF and state law enforcement agencies on hate crimes, human trafficking, and domestic violence cases. She partnered with New York sheriffs to institute best practices for working with communities with limited English proficiency. She conducted a training with the National Sheriffs Association on community policing and rebuilding trust. And, she worked with the International Association of Chiefs of Police to develop strategies to enhance officers’ response to hate crimes and incidents, which have since been adopted by police forces across the globe. The results of her collaborative work are reflected in the support for her nomination from law enforcement, including the Major Cities Chiefs Association, NOBLE, and IACP Executive Director Vincent Talucci.
“Her unparalleled legal credentials are complemented by her lived experience. She grew up in Brooklyn’s Starrett City housing development, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants who instilled in her an unmatched work ethic. Her determination and hard work in public school opened the doors to Choate Rosemary Hall, Harvard, and Columbia Law School. Seeing the stark difference in access to opportunity in her Brooklyn neighborhood and in those private schools gave her a valuable perspective on inequity that continues to guide her work to this day.
“If confirmed, Ms. Clarke will bring the knowledge, experience, and leadership the Civil Rights Division needs to meet the challenges that lie ahead, and, as she has said – to make the promise of ‘justice for all’ a reality. Thank you.”
MALONEY APPLAUDS CENSUS NOMINEE: Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, issued the following statement after President Joseph R. Biden announced his intent to nominate Mr. Robert Santos for Director of the U.S. Census Bureau:
”Mr. Robert Santos’ nomination to head the United States Census Bureau upholds the principle that experts, not political operatives, should drive our nation’s statistical system.
“Mr. Santos has been a fierce advocate for a full, fair, and accurate Census, including when he testified before the Oversight Committee last December in support of giving the Census Bureau’s career officials the time they need to conduct an accurate and complete count. His comprehensive knowledge of the Census Bureau and his unwavering commitment to objective data science are the perfect combination of qualities to ensure delivery of accurate Census data to the American people, and set a strong foundation for our national statistical system as we begin the new decade.
“This choice is a home run, and I urge my colleagues in the Senate to give Mr. Santos the swift confirmation he deserves.”
‘BEGIN MOBILE SPORTS BETTING ASAP’: With one of the most complicated and important state budgets finally complete, State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. was pleased to see that the legalization of mobile sports betting was included in the final language, an effort he’s worked on for over two years.
With New York State facing a major economic deficit caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and losing hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue and educational funding to the New Jersey and illegal sports betting markets, by legalizing mobile sports betting New York is expected to bring in around $99 million in Fiscal Year 2021-2022. That estimated figure then jumps to approximately $357 million in FY 2022-2023, eventually reaching over $500 million in FY 2025-2026, most of which will fund education in the state.
Mobile sports betting will allow people to place wagers on sporting events through their mobile phones or other internet-connected devices. Thirteen other states and Washington D.C. also have legal mobile sports betting.
“We were already facing a budget deficit before the COVID-19 pandemic, so we needed to find additional revenue streams for the state. There was no way we could cut our way out of the hole we found ourselves in,” said Senator Addabbo, Chair of the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee. “Legalizing mobile sports betting will bring in the funds needed by the state that will go towards funding our education system, problem gambling awareness programs and creating jobs.”
New Yorkers are already placing mobile sports bets, but they are either going to the illegal market or quickly traveling to neighboring states where it is legal to do so. A study found that in 2019, New York residents wagered $837 million in New Jersey on sports bets. The Senator noted that not only was New York losing revenue to these other outlets, but individuals with gaming addiction issues were not getting the help they needed.
“When New York residents travel to other states or participate in the illegal market to place mobile sports wagers, there is no way for us to identify and help them should they have a gaming addiction,” Addabbo said. “By safely legalizing mobile sports betting, New York State can better recognize and assist those with a gambling problem, with the help of the over one dozen safeguards and measures written into the bill’s language.”
The state Gaming Commission is to start the creation of the mobile sports betting process and begin to accept bids from sportsbook providers this coming July.
Addabbo hopes to see mobile sports betting fully functional and up-and-running here in New York by the next Super Bowl in 2022. The Super Bowl is the benchmark for mobile sports betting because millions of Americans place wagers in the popular sporting event.
According to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, Garden State residents bet $117 million on last year’s Super Bowl, an increase of 116% from last year’s $54 million in bets on the big game. This year’s total brought New Jersey over $11 million in revenue. While it is not currently known exactly how many of those bets were placed online, in December 2020 bettors wagered more than 93% of New Jersey’s betting handle through online sites.
OVERSIGHT’S FIRST 100 DAYS: On April 12, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, issued the following statement to mark the first 100 days of the 117th Congress:
“The Oversight and Reform Committee hit the ground running during the first 100 days of the 117th Congress. We oversaw over $350 billion of the momentous $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan to give critical assistance to help communities across the country battle the coronavirus pandemic. We also held pivotal hearings on the need for 712,000 residents of the District of Columbia to have representation; reforms to put the Postal Service on sustainable financial footing; and legislation to address gender pay inequities. I am immensely grateful for the leadership of all the Democratic Committee Members for their efforts in pushing for more consumer protections, health care for veterans, and a more efficient federal government. I look forward to continuing to lead our Committee as we take big, bold actions for all of our constituents.”
COMMUNITY FOR ALL: The Task Force on New Americans Chair, Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz, announced the launch of a series of civic engagement and education town halls, which started on Wednesday, April 14th. The “Community for All” initiative will include monthly webinars aimed at understanding the function of government and will encourage new Americans to become civically engaged. This first-of-its-kind initiative will teach attendees the different roles government entities and officials play at the various levels of government, the fundamentals of the redistricting process, Ranked Choice Voting, and civic engagement opportunities beyond the ballot box, as well as an overview of the U.S. naturalization process.
There are approximately 4.6 million new Americans in New York State, of which 2.6 million are United States citizens. New Yorkers with non-citizen status represent approximately 1.4 million of the state’s population (including permanent residents, DACA recipients, refugees, TPS, and other statuses), with an additional 800,000 who are undocumented. Unfortunately, immigrants are an underrepresented voting block. Accordingly, the Task Force will stress the importance of community for all, and will show new Americans how to become more involved in their local government. “It is paramount that every American, regardless of immigration status, is provided with the guidance and education to have their voice heard,” said Assemblywoman Cruz, who added that last year’s election resulted in the highest voter turnout in our nation’s history, but much more should have been done to engage new Americans. The series seeks to ensure that everyone — irrespective of age, ethnicity, or immigration status — can learn about the functions of government to better advocate on behalf of themselves and their communities, while simultaneously encouraging more eligible new American voters to cast their ballots. The webinars will be conducted in English and Spanish by leaders of prominent community-based organizations, and local elected officials will make guest appearances.
“The partnership between the Task Force on New Americans, NALEO Educational Fund, Generation Citizen, the New York Immigration Coalition, LatinoJustice and various other groups could not have come at a better time. New Yorkers must understand that their voice is imperative to their communities, and not just on Election Day. Noncitizens and youth under the age of 18 are also influential in holding their leaders accountable,” said Assemblywoman Cruz, Chair of the NYS Assembly Task Force on New Americans.
TECHNOLOGY MODERNIZATION FUND: Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, along with Committee Members Eleanor Holmes Norton, Jamie Raskin, and Katie Porter sent a letter to Shalanda Young, Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and Katy Kale, Acting Administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA), requesting that the Administration develop a plan for prioritizing projects to fund with the $1 billion Congress appropriated for the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) in the American Rescue Plan.
“As the pandemic has demonstrated, IT is integral to the federal government’s mission,” the Members wrote. ”Oversight of how these funds will be prioritized and allocated, including how the funds will be subject to the reimbursement model currently required by law, is necessary to protect this significant investment of taxpayer dollars.”
The Members seek to ensure agencies are required to reimburse the fund when appropriate — so the federal government continues to have a pool of funding available to modernize federal IT in perpetuity.
The Members request that OMB, in collaboration with GSA and the TMF Board, produce a plan to Congress that details how the $1 billion appropriated to the TMF in the American Rescue Plan will be prioritized and spent. Further, to ensure the self-sustaining model of the TMF is preserved, the Members urge OMB to include details on how the $1 billion will be at least partially subject to the reimbursement requirements.
EXPAND DRIE TO ALL IMMIGRANTS: New York City Council Member Dromm just introduced a resolution in the City Council’s Immigration Committee calling for all immigrant New Yorkers to be eligible for the Disability Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE) program. The DRIE program assists tenants with a disability who qualify to have their rent frozen at their current rate. Tenants would also be exempt from future rent increases starting from the date of their initial application approval.
“Since I took office, my office has been helping constituents apply for what is popularly known as the Rent Freeze Program, which helps low-income seniors and disabled New Yorkers stay in their homes.” said Council Member Dromm. “In addition to meeting financial criteria, recipients of the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption, or SCRIE, must be at least 62 years of age. Recipients of the Disability Rent Increase Exemption, or DRIE, must show that they receive federal benefits, mainly Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income. SCRIE and DRIE are invaluable to many of the residents of Jackson Heights and Elmhurst and throughout the city. Sadly, much government assistance in our society is denied to immigrants in need, and DRIE is no exception. Many disabled individuals in my district and throughout the city are ineligible for no other reason than their immigration status. They do not qualify for the relevant federal programs and, therefore, do not qualify for DRIE. It is fundamentally unfair that the most vulnerable of the vulnerable are prevented from accessing the very programs that are supposed to be helping them. SCRIE has been working to assist our seniors, regardless of their immigration status, and there is absolutely no reason why DRIE should not be doing the same.”
When New York City Council passes the resolution, the State must also introduce and pass a bill currently sponsored by Assembly Member Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas in the Assembly and Gustavo Rivera in the Senate to remove anti-immigrant barriers to disability housing assistance throughout New York State.
OCASIO-CORTEZ’ UPDATES: Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ office released the following update on what she’s been up to “just this week alone”:
- The Funeral Assistance program that Ocasio-Cortez fought for and won for families affected by COVID-19 launched this week. After hearing from her community about how many families were being financially impacted while grieving for their loved ones, she got to work. On Monday, she joined Senator Schumer for a press conference to break down how to apply to receive up to $9,000 in federal assistance.
- After hearing about another devastating fire in Jackson Heights, AOC helped raise over $15,000 for displaced families in just 24 hours. She visited with the impacted families on Monday and shared that the city would be extending family hotel stays until April 20 to give families more time to figure out their next steps.
- Now, Ocasio-Cortez is working with Senator Gillibrand to introduce a bill to expand banking services at U.S. Post Offices in underbanked communities. Postal banking could help reach the 6 percent of adults who currently do not have access to a bank account, while generating $8.9 billion in new annual revenue.
FUNERAL ASSISTANCE FOR COVID LOSSES EXPLAINED: Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) announced on April 15 that FEMA has begun accepting applications for funeral assistance for New Yorkers who have lost loved ones to COVID-19. This program was funded through the American Rescue Plan that Congresswoman Maloney helped pass.
“No amount of money can replace the loss of a loved one, but I hope that this program will help ease the financial strain on New Yorkers who have lost loved ones to the pandemic. These families are suffering, and I hope that by easing financial strain we allow these families to properly grieve,” said Rep. Maloney.
How much aid can New Yorkers receive?
- New Yorkers can apply for up to $9,000 of assistance per funeral.
Who can apply for assistance?
- You may qualify if: You are a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien who paid for funeral expenses after January 20, 2020, and the funeral expenses were for an individual whose death in the United States, territories, or the District of Columbia may have been caused by or was likely the result of COVID-19.
- Individuals may apply for assistance for multiple funerals.
How do New Yorkers apply?
- To apply, individuals must call FEMA’s dedicated call center at 844-684-6333; TTY 800-462-7585. The call center is open Monday-Friday from 9 AM ET to 9 PM ET. No online applications will be accepted. Multilingual services will be available.
What information do New Yorkers need to provide?
The applicant responsible for COVID-19 funeral expenses will need to provide the following information when they call FEMA to register for assistance. FEMA recommends gathering this information ahead of the application process.
- Social Security Numbers for both the applicant and the deceased individual
- Date of birth for both the applicant and the deceased individual
- Current mailing address for the applicant
- Current telephone number for the applicant
- Location or address where the deceased individual passed away
- Information about burial or funeral insurance policies
- Information about other funeral assistance received, such as donations
- Information about CARES Act grants or other assistance received from voluntary organizations
- Routing and account number of the applicant’s checking or savings account (for direct deposit, if requested)
Learn more from FEMA at www.fema.gov/disasters/coronavirus/economic/funeral-assistance/faq.
FREE, ONE-DAY CIVIL LEGAL SERVICES: NYLAG’s Mobile Legal Help Center is holding all of their scheduled sites remotely. They provide free civil (non-criminal) legal services to those who cannot afford an attorney. Make an appointment for a confidential phone intake by calling Senator Joseph Addabbo’s office at 718-738-1111 or visit online at nylag.org/van for May 4, from 10 am-3 pm.
ELECTRONIC RECYCLING EVENT: Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-South Queens) announced that she will be hosting an Electronic Recycling event with the NYC Department of Sanitation (DSNY). This event will allow individuals to drop off computers, monitors, printers/scanners, keyboards, mice, cables, TVs, VCRs & DVD players, phones, audio/visual equipment, cell phones, and PDA’s for proper recycling. However, due to safety protocols, the Assemblywoman’s office will not be able to accept air conditioners, appliances, batteries and light bulbs or ballasts.
“Recycling electronics can be difficult and confusing, so I am glad to bring this event to my community,” Assemblywoman Pheffer Amato said. “I would like to thank DSNY for their partnership and providing our constituent with an easy way to recycle their appliances in an environmentally friendly way.”
The event is taking place April 19-23, Monday through Friday, from 9:30 am – 4 pm in the Rockaway Beach district office located at 95-16 Rockaway Beach Blvd. The Howard Beach district office will be open for E-waste drop off on April 22, from 9:30 – 4 pm, located 162-11 Cross Bay Blvd. For more information, call the Assemblywoman’s office at 718-945-9550.
FOREST PARK RECYCLING EVENT: Sen. Joseph Addabbo and Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar are holding a Recycling Event in the Forest Park Bandshell parking lot on Sunday, April 25, from 10 am – 2 pm. Mask are required, even inside vehicles. They are accepting paper (3 boxes max of personal business or medical files), clothing, shoes, small appliances, kitchenware, toys & bikes, jewelry, small furniture, American Flags, and eyeglasses. *They are not accepting electronics, cardboard, magazines, file folders & pre-shredded paper, air conditioners, paint or tires. For more info, call Addabbo’s office at 718-738-1111.
MOTHER’S DAY ESSAY & POETRY CONTEST: Assemblyman Edward C. Braunstein invites students in grades 2-5 to enter his Mother’s Day Essay & Poetry Contest. Submissions can be any length and should have a Mother’s Day theme, such as a favorite experience, or an essay about why your mother is so special to you. If you would like to participate, print your full name, grade and school info on your entry and submit your essay or poem by Friday, May 14 to Assemblyman Braunstein’s office at 213-33 39th Ave., Suite 238, Bayside, NY 11361. You can also email your writing to [email protected] or fax it to 718-357-5947. For more info, call 718-357-3588.
STAVISKY LAUDS STATE BUDGET: On Monday, Apri1 12th, Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, (D-16th SD) met via zoom with reporters to discuss the 2021-22 Fiscal Year Budget, designed to help New Yorkers rebound from the damaging toll of the COVID-19 pandemic. “This was ‘The Year of the Legislature’ which finally produced a budget that invests in our economy, in education, our infrastructure and so much more. We saw a dramatic shift of power,” Senator Stavisky said.
This budget provides necessary funding to support struggling small business and homeowners and those needing affordable health care. It also looks towards New York’s future by heavily investing in our education system, which Senator Stavisky, who chairs the Senate Higher Education Committee, fought particularly hard for.
“If you are parent, your school will be getting more funding,” explained Senator Stavisky. “If you are a college student, tuition will not be increased. If you are a working immigrant who wasn’t able to get unemployment insurance, help is on the way. If you lost your job or couldn’t work because of COVID, your rent will be subsidized so you can stay in your home. If you are a senior who depends on Medicaid, we saved $400 million from being cut. If you’re a struggling small business owner, this budget lets us invest in you.
“In Higher Education, I am proud of the historic funding we were able to secure for our students and colleges. In this budget we were able to freeze tuition for SUNY and CUNY students. We are also increasing the Tuition Assistance Program by $500, the largest increase in 20 years.”
CRUZ’ VIRTUAL LISTENING TOUR: Chair of the Assembly Task Force on New Americans, Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz, announced a series of virtual forums that will serve as part of her statewide virtual listening tour. The series aims to better understand and improve the effectiveness of the programs and resources available to welcome and support the more than 4.2 million immigrants who call New York State home. The series, which will air over the course of four weeks, touches on issues that impact communities with significant immigrant populations across New York State. The series will serve as a platform for immigrant-serving, community-based organizations to voice their concerns, and allow them to make recommendations on how the state government can help improve the conditions of their constituents. Elected officials from across the state will also participate, including Assemblymembers Pat Fahy, Ken Zebrowski, Phil Ramos, and Harry B. Bronson.
The impact of immigrants in New York is substantial, from the more than $61 billion in taxes pumped back into the state by immigrant families every year, to the enrichment of our daily lives by immigrant business owners, teachers, first responders and so many more. The Assembly, led by Speaker Carl Heastie, has recognized this importance by supporting immigrant communities. The series will also take an in-depth look at this support, as well as any gaps in services and need for additional funding.
“As we bear witness to an increase in xenophobia and hate crimes across the country, our government must do more to ensure new Americans feel welcome in our communities. I strongly believe that to fully build an inclusive society, there must be a dismantling of barriers to the social and economic integration of our growing immigrant communities. The recommendations made by the participating panelists will serve as a foundation to guide future social and fiscal public policies,” said Assemblywoman Cruz, Chair of the Assembly Task Force on New Americans.
The scheduled regional forums hosted by the Assembly Task Force on New Americans will begin at 3:00 PM on the following dates:
April 22, Improving Health Care Access and Educational Opportunities, Hudson Valley.
April 29, Workforce Training and Entrepreneurship, Long Island & NYC.
May 6, Improving Adult English Language Program Availability, Western New York.
RSVP at: us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_WjTxes1xQq-TZFuKApDdqA. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. Questions for forum participants should be emailed during the forum to [email protected]
REFORM FOSTER CARE: Assemblymember David Weprin, a candidate for New York City Comptroller, was invited by Kathryn Garcia – a former NYC sanitation commissioner and candidate for mayor – to stand with her as she announced her plans to change the city’s foster care system towards a more economically and racially just process.
Garcia’s plan, “Family First,” offers pragmatic solutions to reform the foster care system by rooting out systemic racism, prioritizing permanent placements, and targeting the structural issues that result in family separation, she said.
The former Commissioner and three of her five siblings were adopted, and her older sister spent seven years in foster care. Weprin was asked to join her as the lead sponsor on a New York State law authorizing the release of original birth certificates to adoptees.
“Strengthening foster care and all the ramifications that come along with it is vital for the success of those children who go through it and for their foster families,” said Weprin. “Commissioner Garcia is an amazing success story and a role model for thousands of current and future foster care children. Using her own personal experience as an inspiration to fix the system is just one example of what makes New York City great. In 2019, I was the lead sponsor on a bill guaranteeing the right of adoptees to access their original birth certificates. The Commissioner’s plan is another step to right some other long-neglected wrongs for foster children and adoptees. I thank her for her leadership on this important issue for our city.”
“When a system produces racist and economically discriminatory outcomes, that system must be re-designed to serve all New Yorkers with justice and dignity,” said Garcia, in her press release. “When I’m mayor, we will re-design NYC’s foster care system to center equity and deliver meaningful economic support to families in need. For our children searching for their forever home, we will prioritize permanent placements and support them every step of the way. When I think about my adoption and my family, one thing is clear: everybody needs a forever family to support them and a city government that compassionately serves our children in the foster system. Family is forever. And we need more families like mine.”
SLIWA VOWS TO ‘RE-FUND’ POLICE: GOP mayoral candidate and Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa stood outside NYPD’s headquarters in Lower Manhattan on Monday April 12 and vowed to fully refund the police department’s budget and crack down on disruptive protests if elected, the NY Post reported on April 13.
“We’re going to re-fund the police,” he said, surrounded by retired NYPD officers at One Police Plaza. “Put that billion dollars back into the budget.”
Sliwa said he wants the department to be back at 38,000 police officers. There are currently about 35,000.
One way Sliwa has proposed increasing the NYPD’s ranks is by making Madison Square Garden and wealthy private universities pay their taxes.
“They’re going to have to pay,” he told the Post.
“So the specificity of the plan is to use that special allotment of property tax and apply it to refunding the police, giving them back $1 billion that was taken out of their $6 billion budget.”
Sliwa also called for the return of stop-and-frisk as a policing tool and also pledged to be tougher on protests, such as the George Floyd demonstrations that were held over the summer in the city and throughout the country.
“You imagine people can go out there and vandalize property as we’ve seen on a regular basis, and they’re untouchable?” he said. “They get to go out there and have a demonstration without a permit? That’s going to stop. You can’t be blocking traffic. You can’t be damaging buildings without facing arrest.”
Sliwa, who frequently mentions his use of the city’s subways, also called out politicians, including Mayor Bill de Blasio and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, for utilizing NYPD-funded security details while supporting defunding the police.
“I’m not going to need the armed security,” he told the Post. “I’m not going to need the taxpayer-funded SUV, which all of these elected officials take total advantage of, and then they defund the police? But, ‘Oh, please, don’t take my armed security officers away.’ Are they afraid of the people? I get the sense they’re afraid of the people. I’m not afraid of the people.”
For more info, visit curtissliwaformayor.com.
‘REGISTER VOTERS IN RIKERS ISLAND’: In response to the recent push to ensure voting access at Rikers Island, Tiffany Cabán, candidate for City Council District 22, released the following statement: “Rikers Island is the epicenter of harm inflicted on generation after generation of people in New York City. People incarcerated on Rikers have rights – including the right to vote. The Department of Correction and Board of Elections must recognize the legal rights of people on Rikers. We will not address and reckon with that generational harm until the people systematically oppressed by society have power, including through elections.
“The Legal Aid Society’s investigation has shown that many people on Rikers who are eligible to vote have not yet been informed of their right to vote ahead of primary elections that are less than three months away. With the deadline to request absentee ballots at the end of May, we need to immediately hold the Department of Correction accountable.
“We are clear in our demands: The Department of Correction must immediately register all eligible voters, inform every eligible voter of their right to vote, and the Board of Elections must set up a voting site on the island to allow for in person voting.
“It is not surprising that the same systems built to oppress Black and brown communities are simultaneously denying the right to vote of disproportionately Black and brown people. Failing to speak out about this injustice perpetuates the systemic racism and oppression that voter suppression enables.
“We need to close Rikers permanently, and we need to do that earlier than 2026. While we fight for that, we can’t lose sight of the people waiting on us to make that change. It is not enough for the DOC to try or to promise; there is an election in June, people on Rikers have every right to have their voice heard in it, and it is on DOC and BOE to make it happen. We need to oversee their efforts.
“I stand with the people incarcerated on Rikers, I stand with their families, and I stand with the communities they come from – the same communities that every year see far too few voting booths with far too-long lines come election day. Voting is a Constitutional right. It’s not a question of whether our city should vindicate that right. It must do so. Rikers Island is within District 22. The people in cages there are our neighbors. It is our duty to fight like hell for them.”
ANTI-ASIAN HATE CRIMES TRAINING WEBINAR: On Tuesday, April 13, City Council Candidate Ellen Young was joined by 109th NYPD Precinct Hate Crimes Task Force Officer Ares Huang in hosting an Anti-Asian Hate Crimes informational webinar for parents of students in the Chinese-American Planning Council Early Childhood Center. The meeting focused on how to report hate-crimes as well as bystander training for when a hate-crime is witnessed. As these brutal attacks continue to threaten the safety of the Asian American community in New York City, parents were afforded the opportunity to share their experiences, raise questions and concerns, and have them addressed by Ellen and Officer Huang.
According to her campaign, as the first Asian American woman elected to the NYS legislature and the first female Asian American auxiliary NYPD officer in Queens, Ellen Young is the only candidate in the race to represent the 20th City Council District with the experience required to tackle this issue. Young has also been endorsed by members of the legal and law enforcement community, including world-renowned criminology and forensics expert Dr. Henry C. Lee, the first female Asian American Supreme Court Justice Dorothy Chin Brandt, and the first Asian American to serve as presiding justice in NYS, former judge Randall Eng.
Young’s “comprehensive and aggressive plan to deal with these hate crimes will provide tangible results.” Her plan includes:
- Implementation of an early education anti-bullying curriculum starting in Pre-K for all NYC students.
- Establishment of a special investigative unit to arbitrate in disputes between victims and the NYPD when there is disagreement in classifying a hate-crime.
- Maximum sentencing with no parole for the perpetrators of hate crimes.
Young’s campaign further stated, “As the first Asian woman elected to the NYS Legislature, Ellen knows it takes bold action to get results. Ellen is running to serve the needs of working and middle-class families. As a former Assembly Member, NYPD Auxiliary officer and small business owner, she knows that we need experienced, capable leaders representing us on the City Council. As our Assembly Member, Ellen secured millions for our local parks, libraries, schools and first responders. She passed legislation protecting our environment, creating jobs and building middle-class housing.” More on Young’s plans for the district can be found at www.EllenForNY.com.
YANG VS. PARKING PLACARD ABUSE: On April 15th, Andrew Yang, Democratic candidate for Mayor of New York City, stood in Cadman Plaza in Downtown Brooklyn to roll out his placard abuse policy to cut back on illegal and unsafe parking throughout the city. Said Andrew Yang, “For years, our city government has sat by while the placard system has run amok. There has been a lot of talk and little action. That will change under my administration. Drivers who use placards – real or fake – shouldn’t feel as if they have license to park illegally, on sidewalks, or in bike lanes. We live in a crowded city and we have to work together to create safe, efficient streets for everyone.”
Currently, New York City provides parking placards to certain public and non-profit employees and clergy, a privilege which permits them to park in otherwise restricted zones. Over 125,000 placards are in circulation, but the laminated placards are easily counterfeited and the system can often feel as if it is totally unregulated.
While there are several laws regulating placard usage, they are unevenly enforced and New Yorkers are accustomed to seeing private cars parked in space meant for other public uses. Last year, enforcement funding was cut as part of the budget agreement. The de Blasio administration has also put forth new plans to make counterfeiting placards more difficult by creating a digital system. The original plan was announced in 2019 with 2021 as the target for full implementation. That has not come close to happening.
A Yang administration will seek to finally add sanity to the placard system by endorsing new solutions put forth in the City Council and will also ensure full implementation of new technologies to cut back on placard corruption. Beyond immediate next steps, a Yang administration will also seek to reduce the number of legal placards.
Andrew Yang’s proposal includes:
Implementing the “digital sticker” system within the first year of a Yang administration. The idea has already been piloted by the current administration, but the effort to actually implement the program has been lacking. A Yang administration will ensure that all placard owners have digital stickers by the end of 2022 so that the current laminated paper system can be fully eliminated and the stickers cannot be transferred among cars or counterfeited.
Endorsing Int. 2159-2020 sponsored by Council Member Levin to provide citizen oversight of car obstructions. The legislation would provide an outlet for New Yorkers to report unlawful parking and would also increase monetary fines. The Department of Transportation would be charged with creating a reporting mechanism. If the City’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH) finds a violation in fact took place, the person who reported the violation would receive 25% of the paid fine (have at it, @placardabuse). The idea would parallel a successful program already in place where New Yorkers can report idling cars.
Funding DOT enforcement of placard violations. In the FY2021 budget, funding was cut from both the NYPD and DOT placard enforcement unit. To better integrate with the future passage of Int. 2159 and the recent law giving DOT more power in overseeing traffic enforcement, a Yang administration will fund the DOT to enforce parking laws – and respond to citizen complaints – to ensure placards are being used appropriately. The “three-strike rule” would then actually be carried out.
Reducing placards available to City Hall staff. A Yang administration will lead by example and cut placard privileges for City Hall staff.
Moving towards a reduction of legal placards. Our street space can serve a better purpose than just for parked cars. A Yang administration will seek to reduce the number of legal placards during collective bargaining agreement negotiations and also with other entities outside of government. That will help free up space for pedestrians and bikers. For instance, a parking space or two can be replaced in front of each school and public library with bike corrals – an issue Andrew knows personally from biking with his children to school. The idea would build on past proposals to make Open Streets permanent and expand protected bike lanes.
‘NOT A POLITICAL STEPPING STONE TO MAYOR’: Assemblymember David Weprin, candidate for New York City Comptroller, recently circulated a written pledge to the other six candidates in the race, promising that if elected they will not run for mayor while in office.
“The office of New York City Comptroller is an important role going back 220 years,” the pledge begins. “The next person who holds the job will be responsible for the financial well being of the city and the pensions of hundreds of thousands of hardworking men and women, including teachers, police officers, and retirees as we exit one of the worst financial crises in our history. Yet, for nearly 70 years, every single New York City Comptroller has used the position to run for Mayor either during or after their term of office.”
“The job of city comptroller was not intended to be a stepping stone nor a consolation prize,” said Weprin. “It is a full time job and deserves full time attention. If New Yorkers should put their trust in me, I promise to be that kind of comptroller. I urge my fellow candidates to promise the same and sign the pledge.”
JFK DEMS ENDORSE YANG: On April 15, the John F. Kennedy Regular Democratic Club voted to endorse Andrew Yang for Mayor of New York City. The JFK Democratic Club is the long-standing Democratic club of Kew Gardens Hills, Briarwood and Kew Gardens in Queens. At that night’s meeting, Andrew addressed the club and spread his message of hope and optimism for New York’s recovery.
JFK Democratic Club President Jeff Kohn said, “Over the last several months I’ve done outreach to have candidates speak to our club. Andrew was one of the few who was willing to listen, but also to understand the issues Central Queens faces. Andrew didn’t just listen, he’s listening. When I speak to residents in our community, they often feel ignored or left behind, but Andrew made them feel heard. We are proud to wholeheartedly endorse Andrew Yang to be the next Mayor of New York. Our message is clear: we need a pragmatic consensus builder to bring the City we love back from the brink – that person is Andrew Yang.”
Yang said, “I am honored to receive the support of the JFK Democratic Club, and look forward to partnering with them to get New York back on its feet. Together we will kickstart a recovery that is robust and inclusive and build a City where everyone feels heard.”
YANG LEADS IN MATCHING FUNDS, $3.7M: On April 15, the NYC Campaign Finance Board announced that it has approved $3,724,112 in public matching funds for Andrew Yang’s campaign for mayor, the most in the race for this period.
Said Andrew Yang, “Let’s go New York! I am so proud of the outpouring of support from New Yorkers across the city that helped us unlock over $3.7 million in matching funds today. These funds will be critical to getting our message out to every New Yorker about our vision for building a vibrant, hopeful, and thriving city over the next four years. Our people powered campaign is just getting started — I can’t wait to keep meeting and talking to all of you in the weeks ahead!”
In just 60 days between announcing his candidacy and the March filing, Andrew Yang received contributions from 15,600 unique donors, the most donors for any mayoral primary campaign in the City’s history. That included over 6,300 in New York City alone, the most in the race and more than 100 new New Yorkers a day contributing on average.
MOYA OUTRAISES ENTIRE FIELD: The NYC Campaign Finance Board awarded Council Member Francisco Moya’s campaign for re-election in District 21 public matching funds, after his campaign received overwhelming support and contributions from small-dollar donors across Central Queens and New York City. Moya has outraised the entire field of candidates, and is proud to have the voices of his grassroots supporters amplified by matching funds. The campaign has raised over $20,000 from donors within District 21 and New York City, and received close to $150,000 in matching funds from the CFB.
Councilman Moya said: “I want to thank every single person in my district and across New York City who donated to our campaign. I am proud to receive public funds to match the contributions of small-dollar donors. Central Queens is my home and I am so grateful to have the trust and support of my community in my campaign for re-election. I am even more energized to continue working for my neighbors and New Yorkers across the City.”
This widespread support for Moya in District 21 is a testament to his long-term record of showing up and delivering results for his community—from East Elmhurst and Jackson Heights to LeFrak City and Corona and for New Yorkers across the City. Moya’s re-election campaign has been endorsed by all of New York City’s major labor unions—Labor Strong 2021 coalition (32BJ, DC37, NYS Nurses Association, CWA District 1, and HTC), Carpenters, LiUNA, and UFT—as well as Latino Victory Fund, and the Gay and Lesbian Democratic Club of Queens.
Council Member Francisco Moya is a community leader and activist who has represented East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, LeFrak City, and his native Corona in the City Council since 2018. According to his campaign, “Moya has worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to deliver for working families, fight for frontline workers, protect public schools, support our seniors and ensure our community gets the resources we need. Moya is running for re-election because he believes we need experienced, proven and dedicated leadership to ensure we emerge from these compounding crises stronger than we went into it.” For more information, visit Moyaforcouncil.com and follow @FranciscoMoyaNY on Twitter and Instagram, and @FranciscoforNewYork on Facebook.
MALONEY RAISES OVER $385K FOR RE-ELECTION: Last week, Carolyn Maloney filed with over $385,000 raised for her re-election campaign, exceeding what she raised during this same period in 2019.
“Thank you to the individual donors who helped me show a strong filing during this first quarter. I am honored and humbled by the generosity and outpouring of support. I love New York City and I am so proud to represent the 12th District in Congress.”
Maloney is a tireless advocate for the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, and the people of the 12th Congressional District. Just ranked #2 most effective leader in Congress by GovTrack, her prolific legislative accomplishments for the district include fighting for women, families, and the working people of NY-12. Carolyn Maloney secured $5.6 billion in aid to New York City in the American Rescue Plan for small business and rent relief programs, direct stimulus payments, and a robust vaccination effort. As Chairwoman of the Oversight and Reform Committee, Maloney has also fought for D.C. Statehood to give more than 700,000 residents the right to representation in Congress.
1199SEIU ENDORSES RICHARDS FOR RE-ELECTION: 1199SEIU, the nation’s largest healthcare union, has endorsed Donovan Richards for re-election as Queens Borough President.
“Donovan has continued to fight for hardworking New Yorkers and to protect access to healthcare. He understands the needs of working families and knows how to deliver for them. We are confident that Donovan will stand by our side and continue that work as Queens Borough President,” said Gabby Seay, 1199SEIU Political Director.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the workers of 1199SEIU have been on the frontlines taking care of patients and those in need. They are committed to their communities and improving healthcare across our city. As we have seen continued challenges accessing care, it is crucial that we fight for more facilities and better resources for residents. I am so thankful to have the support of 1199SEIU and their members and look forward to continuing to work with them to protect our workers and keep New Yorkers healthy,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards.
The Democratic Primary for Queens Borough President will take place on Tuesday, June 23rd.
CROWLEY TO RUN FOR BOROUGH PRESIDENT: Surrounded by a large group of supporters, former City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley announced her run for Queens borough president. The candidate for the June 22nd Democratic primary said she will fight to ensure that Queens receives the services and funding that its families and businesses urgently need. She vowed to address rising crime and threats to the borough’s schools. And she shared an optimistic vision for a path to not just recover from the pandemic, but to emerge stronger than ever.
“Our borough was facing crises on many fronts even prior to the pandemic,” she said. “The status quo isn’t enough. I will fight for the families of Queens. I have the experience to do so.”
She said her top priorities as borough president will be to fight for:
- A COVID recovery that prioritizes the needs of working families and small businesses
- The resources needed to keep our streets safe and free from hate crimes
- Small class sizes and the protection of gifted and talented school programs
- The largest expansion of public transit in recent history and free busing throughout the borough
- Assistance for tenants who have been struggling to make ends meet.
“I have lived my entire life in Queens, and I raised a family here as a single parent,” she said. “I know all of the neighborhoods in Queens, and I have always put the needs of Queens’ families first.”
Elizabeth Crowley was born and raised in Queens. She is the 14th of 15 children born to Mary and Walter Crowley, who were both dedicated to community service. She and her family, including her two sons, Dennis and Owen, live in Glendale.
Ms. Crowley received her bachelor’s degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology, at which she was a Presidential Scholar, and graduated Magna Cum Laude. Prior to being elected to office, she worked as a restorative painter on many of New York’s landmarks including Radio City Music Hall, The Central Synagogue, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
She holds an M.S. in City and Regional Planning from Pratt Institute’s Graduate School of Architecture.
MENG ENDORSES LEE FOR CITY COUNCIL: Democrat Linda Lee, candidate for City Council in the 23rd District, announced the endorsement of Congresswoman Grace Meng. Meng has represented NY’s 6th congressional district in Queens since 2013 and was a member of the New York State Assembly from 2009-2012. This is Lee’s biggest endorsement from a Queens elected official since launching her campaign. The endorsement comes on the heels of support from the large and influential Teachers Union (UFT) and Hotel Trades Council (HTC), as well as endorsements from Queens Assemblymembers Nily Rozic and Catalina Cruz, continuing the campaign’s strong momentum.
“I’m endorsing Linda Lee for City Council because no one is better prepared to deliver for our neighborhoods. As the director of a large nonprofit, Linda has provided meals for homebound seniors, mental healthcare, and successfully fought to open the only vaccine site in Northeastern Queens – all while juggling remote learning and childcare for her two boys. No one will work harder or deliver more for our families than Linda Lee,” said Congresswoman Grace Meng.
Lee said “Congresswoman Meng has been at the forefront of so many critical fights for our communities, from standing strong against anti-Semitism and AAPI hate to working to get women a seat at the table to fighting to protect social security and expand Medicare. There’s no stronger advocate for women, seniors, and families and I’m humbled to have her support.”
JIM OWLES LIBERAL DEMS ENDORSE CABÁN: Tiffany Cabán, former public defender, queer Latina and candidate for New York City Council District 22 received the endorsement of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club.
The Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, named for the legendary gay rights pioneer Jim Owles, was formed in 2004 as a citywide political activist club with a mission to secure human rights, dignity, and freedom for all people.
“The Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club is an important ally in the fight to advance LGBTQ+ justice in New York City, and as a queer Latina, I am proud to have their support in this race,” said Tiffany Cabán. “I look forward to working with the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club as we work to center LGBTQ+ New Yorkers and make this city – a city rich in radical queer tradition and liberation fights – one that is truly inclusive and equitable for everyone who lives here.”
The endorsement adds to Cabán’s growing coalition of local elected officials, activists, labor groups, and progressive, grassroots community organizations. For the full list of her endorsements, visit www.cabanforqueens.com/endorsements.
CABÁN RECEIVES ENDORSEMENTS FROM LABOR: Tiffany Cabán, candidate for City Council District 22 received the endorsements of UNITEHERE Local 100 and the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR)/SEIU, a local of Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
UNITE HERE Local 100 is the Union for food service, beverage and retail workers in the New York area. They represent workers in cafeterias, airports, executive dining rooms, restaurants, bars, delis, sports and arenas and exhibition halls and performing arts centers throughout New York City, Westchester, Long Island and New Jersey.
“She is an advocate for her community and true champion of issues that hit close to home,” said Jose Maldonado, Secretary Treasurer of UNITEHERE. “Tiffany stood shoulder to shoulder with our members at LGA Airport to fight for Recall Rights and health care. We look forward to having an ally in City Hall.”
The Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR) is the largest house staff union in the United States. CIR is a local of Service Employees International Union (SEIU), representing over 17,000 resident physicians and fellows who are dedicated to improving residency training and education, advancing patient care, and expanding healthcare access for our communities.
“Tiffany’s values and commitment to building community prove she is a champion for our members and the patients they care for every day,” said Dr. Keriann Shalvoy, CIR President. “That is why we look forward to working with her to put those who have been excluded first and to build a more just New York.”
LIU ENDORSES SCHULMAN: State Sen. John Liu, New York’s first Asian American Comptroller, who now represents NY’s 11th State Senate District in Northeast Queens, officially endorsed Lynn Schulman for election in the City Council’s 29th District (Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, Rego Park, and Richmond Hill).
“Lynn Schulman has been a progressive force in our borough for decades and is an ally in the fight for equality and justice,” said Sen. Liu. “Most recently, Lynn has been a powerful advocate for the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community as they face an unprecedented spike in hate crimes. I’m confident that Lynn will fiercely defend and keep our APPI community safe in CD 29, and I’m honored to endorse her for election.
“Queens can also depend on Lynn to fight on the issues that matter most, especially fixing the hospital shortage, investing in our public schools, and taking care of our seniors. Lynn will improve the quality of life for everyone in the 29th Council District with her progressive activism and robust policy agenda,” John Liu added, citing Schulman’s recent work on health care, community, and social service issues in the City Council and decades of service as Vice Chair of Community Board 6.
Schulman thanked Liu for his endorsement, noting they will work together to counter the appalling rise in anti-AAPI violence that has swept the city and the nation.
“John Liu has been a pioneer in city politics, a powerful voice for progressive change, and I am honored to have his endorsement,” Schulman said. “John’s dynamic advocacy is needed now more than ever as we face an appalling rise in anti-Asian violence and xenophobia. I stand in solidarity with the AAPI community to combat this hatred. I will be honored to work with John as a partner in the State Senate to deliver the change we need for Queens.”
For more information on Schulman’s campaign, including other endorsements and her agenda, go to www.schulman2021.com.
—With contributions by Annette Hanze Alberts
This column was originated by John A. Toscano