I On Politics – Western Queens Gazette

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‘MAJOR MILESTONE’: CAPACITY RESTRICTIONS LIFTED: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo released the following statement on New York reaching major milestone in the fight against COVID: capacity restrictions being lifted and CDC guidance on masks and social distancing: “Today is a milestone in New York State’s war against COVID. With positivity and hospitalization rates at their lowest levels since last fall, and more than 10 million New Yorkers having received at least one vaccine dose, today New York State is adopting the CDC’s updated guidance on masks and social distancing.

“This means that, 399 days after New York was the first state in the country to implement a mask mandate, effective today, fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to use a face covering in most public places. New York is coming back, and it’s a testament to the strength and grit of New Yorkers who banded together, stayed tough, and fought as one to defeat this COVID beast.

“The steps we’re taking today don’t mean that COVID has been officially relegated to the history books. We need to stay vigilant, continue to follow the safety guidelines in place, and help every single eligible New Yorker get vaccinated, so that we can finally reach that light at the end of the tunnel. And as we start to climb the next mountains in our path, we need to ensure that the values that got New York through this crisis, community, discipline, strength, toughness, and love for each other, endure.”

For additional background, see the announcements on the easing of restrictions and on the CDC guidance on masks and social distancing.

‘ADDRESS BACKLOG OF VETERANS’ RECORDS’: “According to NARA, many of the records housed at the NPRC exist only in paper form and cannot be accessed remotely.” On May 20, the following sent a letter to Department of Defense (DOD) Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III asking him to prioritize a National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) request for assistance with addressing the backlog of veterans’ records requests at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC): Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney and Ranking Member James Comer; Government Operations Subcommittee Chairman Gerald E. Connolly and Ranking Member Jody Hice;  National Security Subcommittee Chairman Stephen F. Lynch and Ranking Member Glenn Grothman; House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Takano and Ranking Member Mike Bost;  Economic Opportunity Subcommittee Chairman Mike Levin; and Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee Chairwoman Elaine Luria.

“Veterans and their families depend on timely access to personnel records in order to receive life-saving medical care, emergency housing assistance, proper military burials, and other vital benefits earned through service to our country. We urge DOD to support the NPRC’s work and to ensure that we uphold our solemn pledge to care for our nation’s veterans.”

The officials noted that according to NARA, many of the records housed at the NPRC exist only in paper form and cannot be accessed remotely. While NARA has been able to address emergency requests, since workplace restrictions were implemented last year in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the NPRC has been unable to process thousands of other requests for veterans records.

On May 10, 2021, NARA Chief Operating Officer William J. Bosanko wrote a letter to DOD requesting assistance for pandemic recovery operations at the NPRC. Specifically, NARA is requesting support to conduct off-site sorting and batching of military personnel folders for refiling and on-site searching and retrieval of veterans’ records, as well as assistance with digitizing separation documents that veterans depend on to demonstrate their eligibility for federal benefits.

PROPER BURIAL FOR UNCLAIMED VETS’ REMAINS PASSES SENATE: Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris announced the state Senate passed his legislation (S.1231) which gives New York’s veterans a dignified burial. The bill, which passed unanimously, requires affected counties and the city of New York to work with a veteran service organization to provide for the burial of a veteran whose remains are unclaimed.

“The men and women who served and sacrificed are deserving of a respectful burial,” said Senate Deputy Leader Gianaris. “It is important for our community to appropriately recognize our veterans and I am pleased my colleagues joined me in supporting this bill.”

“While it is among our highest priorities to provide better support for our living veterans, we must also do what is right for veterans who have passed away. No veteran should be left uninterred and this bill will ensure we coordinate efforts to ensure these remains are no longer left neglected,” said Assembly Member Pamela J. Hunter, who carries the legislation in the state Assembly.

Senator Gianaris’ legislation ensures unclaimed remains of veterans are afforded a dignified funeral and burial, even when veterans do not have a next-of-kin or the means to provide for their own burial. Local governments would work with a local veterans’ service organization which would contract with a funeral home to provide these services.

CLOSE LOOPHOLES ON PENSIONS FOR CORRUPT POLITICIANS: Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) joined with Congressman Ralph Norman (R-SC) to introduce H.R.3327, the No Congressionally Obligated Recurring Revenue Used as Pensions To Incarcerated Officials Now (NO CORRUPTION) Act. This bipartisan legislation would eliminate pension payments for Members of Congress who have been convicted of various criminal offenses.

Under current law, if a pension-eligible Member of Congress is convicted of certain crimes, he or she is still eligible to receive that pension while their conviction is being appealed, which could drag on for years. The No CORRUPTION Act would mandate that Members found guilty of these crimes immediately become ineligible to collect any pension payments earned while serving as a Member of Congress. This would apply upon initial conviction, not years down the road after the appeals process is exhausted.

“The No CORRUPTION Act is a simple and common-sense measure that prevents the payment of pension benefits to former Members of Congress who have been convicted of crimes and are awaiting criminal sentencing. This legislation closes a door on potential abuse of taxpayer funds, and I am proud to support it,” said Rep. Maloney.

62% HAVE RECEIVED AT LEAST ONE VAX DOSE: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo just announced 62 percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older and 51 percent of all vaccine-eligible New Yorkers have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. 109,748 doses have been administered across the state’s vast distribution network in the last 24 hours, and 800,437 doses have been administered statewide over the past seven days. 845 doses were administered at MTA station stops on May 18, the first day of the expansion of the successful pilot program.

“As we hit a major milestone in reopening our state, it’s important to remember that our progress on vaccinations has been a key component in making this big comeback possible,” Governor Cuomo said. “Reopening does not in any way mean that getting vaccinated has become less urgent. As always, we are continuing to work with community leaders and organizations to make sure the vaccine is accessible to every New Yorker, and our providers are working around the clock to administer more shots. If you still need to get your shot, you just have to show up at one of our many sites across the state and roll up your sleeve.”

All New York State mass vaccination sites are now open to eligible New Yorkers for walk-in vaccination on a first come first serve basis. The walk-in appointments are reserved for first doses only with second doses to be scheduled automatically after administration of the initial shot. In addition, all vaccine providers are encouraged to allow walk-in appointments for eligible New Yorkers. People who would prefer to schedule an appointment at a state-run mass vaccination site can do so on the Am I Eligible App or by calling 1-833-NYS-4-VAX. People may also contact their local health department, pharmacy, doctor or hospital to schedule appointments where vaccines are available, or visit vaccines.gov to find information on vaccine appointments near them.

NY TO REENTER TITLE X FUNDING: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced on May 18 support for the proposed changes to the federal Title X Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, published on April 15. New York announced in September 2019 that rather than accept the previous administration’s federal funding conditioned on limiting the options of patients and medical professionals, New York would withdraw from the federal Title X program and continue supporting the state’s family planning program with State funding. These long awaited updates, which ensure that Title X services are patient-centered, equitable and affordable for the populations in greatest need of safety net family planning services, will soon allow New York to re-enter the program.

“The proposed changes to the Title X program signal a welcome change in federal policy since the last administration, which had made it its goal to turn back the clock and dismantle the progress that was achieved over decades,” Governor Cuomo said. “As always, New York will continue to be a beacon of progress and a leader in access to family planning services. We look forward to reentering Title X and upholding its mission to deliver critical services to all who need them.”

For decades, NYSDOH oversaw one of the largest and most complex networks of Title X agencies in the nation. Through its New York State Family Planning Program, NYSDOH successfully administered its Title X grant in compliance with all federal statutes and regulations. On May 18, despite withdrawing from the federal Title X program in 2019, the NYSFPP continues to provide services to approximately 300,000 clients each year; nearly two-thirds of people served have incomes under 100% of the Federal Poverty Level , and many utilize the family planning clinic as their primary source of health care.

NYSDOH was able to maintain stability in its statewide family planning network through the infusion of state funds to replace federal funding. Should the proposed regulations be implemented, NYSDOH would seek to re-enter the Title X network by applying for funding to support experienced long-standing providers of reproductive health care across the state, and seek to expand geographic coverage and access to areas to address gaps in services.

‘CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE VULNERABLE TO CYBERATTACKS’: On May 17, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, the Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, issued the following statement after that day’s joint staff briefing with Colonial Pipeline:

“Following today’s briefing from Colonial Pipeline, we remain extremely concerned about the rise in ransomware attacks and the threat to our nation and its critical infrastructure. It is deeply troubling that cyber criminals were able to use a ransomware attack to disrupt gas supply on the East Coast and reportedly extort millions of dollars. We’re disappointed that the company refused to share any specific information regarding the reported payment of ransom during today’s briefing.  In order for Congress to legislate effectively on ransomware, we need this information.

“This attack not only highlights glaring vulnerabilities in our critical infrastructure, it also exposes a marketplace in which it may be easier for a company to pay off a criminal than put resources towards preventing and defending against attacks. We look forward to working with the Biden Administration and our colleagues on both sides of the aisle to strengthen our nation’s cyber defenses and secure our critical infrastructure.”

MALONEY VOTES TO PASS COVID-19 HATE CRIMES ACT: On May 18, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) voted in support of S.937, the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act. This bill focuses on COVID-19 hate crimes and the dramatic increase in hate crimes and violence against Asian-American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the vote, Congresswoman Maloney, as Chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, will manage debate for House Democrats on Congresswoman Judy Chu’s H.Res. 275 condemning the horrific shootings in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 16, and reaffirming the House of Representatives’ commitment to combating hate, bigotry, and violence against the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community.

“Hate has no place in our city or nation. The spike in anti-AAPI violence around our city and country over this past year is disturbing and unacceptable,” said Rep. Maloney. “The heinous shootings in Georgia, Indianapolis, and the acts of violence in our very own backyard – Hell’s Kitchen, Central Park, on the subway, and across New York City – must be a wake-up call for all of us to the reality Asian Americans have been facing over the past year. Incidents like these are why we must always call out bigotry and hate – wherever and whenever we see it. Our AAPI neighbors have been attacked and harassed because of misinformation and xenophobia that wrongly blamed them for the COVID-19 virus. I stand in solidarity with the AAPI community today and every day. I am proud that Congress came together in a bipartisan vote to pass the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act and thank Congresswoman Meng and Senator Hirono for their leadership.”

In New York City, the number of anti-Asian hate crimes reported to the police increased by 833%, the most out of any major U.S. city. Last year, there was a 1,900% increase in violence against Asian Americans, and Asian American women were attacked at a rate almost 2.5 times more than Asian American men.

BILL TO BETTER SECURE CAPITOL PASSES: Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) voted to pass H.R.3237, the Emergency Security Supplemental to Respond to January 6th Appropriations Act. The bill authorizes $1.9 billion in funding to respond to the tragic events of the January 6th insurrection. Informed by the recommendations of the task force led by Lieutenant General (Retired) Russel L. Honoré, the legislation will secure the safety of the Capitol, protect facilities, Members, employees, and visitors going forward, and provide for safe and healthy Congressional operations.

“The January 6 insurrection caused tragic loss of life and many injuries, while leaving behind widespread physical damage to the Capitol Complex and emotional trauma for Members, Congressional employees, and the Capitol Police,” said Rep. Maloney. “This emergency supplemental funding addresses the direct costs of the insurrection and strengthens Capitol security for the future. This need is urgent, and I am urging my colleagues in the Senate to move this bill forward so that we can better protect the Capitol and those who work and visit here.”

H.R.3237, the Emergency Security Supplemental to Respond to January 6th Appropriations Act responds to the direct costs incurred by the violent attack on the Capitol, including by:

  • Reimbursing the National Guard and the District of Columbia, and other federal agencies for their response and subsequent presence at the Capitol.
  • Supporting the Capitol Police with overtime pay, retention bonuses, equipment replacement, and wellness and trauma support.
  • Prosecuting the hundreds of perpetrators who attacked law enforcement and defiled our temple of democracy.

Informed by the Capitol Security Review, the legislation strengthens security, including by:

  • Improving security by hardening windows and doors, constructing security screening vestibules, and installing new cameras.
  • Creating a dedicated Quick Reaction Force to augment the Capitol Police in cases of emergency.
  • Bolstering security for Members of Congress, as well as for federal judges – many of whom are presiding over trials of January 6 insurrectionists.
  • Providing specialized training, riot control equipment and body cameras for the Capitol Police.

DHS TO SEVER TIES WITH ICE FACILITY: On May 20, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, and Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Chairwoman of the Oversight and Reform Committee, released the below statement on news that Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has ordered U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to sever its ties with the Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC) in Georgia, an ICE facility run by LaSalle Corrections.

Last year, disturbing allegations of detainee mistreatment stemming from a whistleblower complaint – including forced medical procedures and COVID-19 protocol violations – were made regarding the facility. The Committees on Homeland Security and Oversight & Reform commenced a joint investigation into these allegations in September 2020 but were “stonewalled by LaSalle and ICE which resulted in the company being subpoenaed by Congress,” the Chair explained.

“We are pleased that Secretary Mayorkas took this action today,” said the Chairs. “It is yet another sign that he continues to take steps to improve our immigration system, ensuring it is humane and in line with our values. Thankfully, we now have an Administration that is taking allegations of abuse seriously after the previous Administration made it very clear migrant health and safety were not a top priority. It is imperative that we treat those in our care humanely and make sure we have proper safeguards in place to protect them. Our investigation into this facility will remain ongoing.”

REFORMS TO POLICE USE OF FORCE LAWS: New York Attorney General Letitia James announced on May 21 legislation to change New York state’s laws governing police violence to strengthen prosecutors’ ability to hold police officers accountable for unjustified and excessive use of force. The Police Accountability Act — the most far-reaching use of force reform in the nation — seeks to amend New York’s law that justifies police use of force, which currently sets an exceedingly high standard for prosecuting police officers who have improperly used deadly or excessive force. The centerpiece of the legislation seeks to amend the use of force law from one of simple necessity to one of absolute last resort, mandating that police officers only use force after all other alternatives have been exhausted. The legislation will also establish new criminal penalties for police officers who employ force that is grossly in excess of what is warranted in an interaction with civilians.

“For far too long, police officers in this country have been able to evade accountability for the unjustified use of excessive and lethal force,” said Attorney General James. “In New York, our laws have essentially given police blanket defense to use force in interactions with the public, making it exceedingly difficult for prosecutors to go after officers who have abused this power. Not only is that gravely unjust, but it has also proven to be incredibly dangerous. The Police Accountability Act will make critical and necessary changes to the law, providing clear and legitimate standards for when the use of force is acceptable and enacting real consequences for when an officer crosses that line. While this is an important step in addressing the shortfalls of our criminal justice system, it is not a cure all for the ills that have impacted too many families and claimed too many lives. We must continue to do everything in our power to protect our communities and ensure that no one is beyond the reach of justice.”

Overview: The Police Accountability Act (S.6615) includes a series of reforms aimed at improving protocols and strengthening accountability measures when police officers use force, especially lethal force. These legislative reforms are intended to reduce deaths at the hands of police by ensuring that police officers adhere to practices and tactics that aim to preserve life and only use lethal force as a last resort, while providing prosecutors with appropriate tools to potentially hold officers accountable when an individual dies after an interaction with police.

1) Use of Force Must Be A Last Resort Current law: New York’s current law does not require officers to exhaust other options, such as de-escalation, verbal warnings, or lower level uses of force, before using force, including lethal force. Police Accountability Act reform: The Police Accountability Act seeks to amend this law by establishing a “last resort” standard, whereby use of force must be a last resort that officers can only employ when there are no reasonable alternatives to avoiding force or reducing the force used. Officers must instead exhaust alternatives, including de-escalation, lower levels of force, verbal warnings, and other methods.

2) Simple Suspicion of Criminal Conduct Cannot Justify Lethal Force Current law: New York’s current use of force law authorizes police to use lethal force based simply on an officer’s reasonable belief that an individual committed a particular crime — a certain category of felony or attempt to commit a felony — and irrespective of whether the individual presents a danger to the officer or another person at the time. Police Accountability Act reform: The Police Accountability Act seeks to eliminate justification for lethal force when an officer simply suspects an individual has engaged in particular criminal conduct. Lethal force should only be used in the most exigent of circumstances and demands higher standards of proof before an officer may use lethal force.

3) Allow Prosecutors to Evaluate if Police Conduct Led to Need for Use of Force Current law: New York’s current law justifying police use of force does not provide a mechanism for prosecutors to consider an officer’s own responsibility for creating the need for force in the first place. Police Accountability Act reform: The Police Accountability Act seeks to explicitly allow prosecutors to consider whether an officer’s conduct created a substantial and unjustifiable risk that force would become necessary. Where that is the case, an officer may not avail themselves of the justification defense.

4) Establish Standards and Criminal Penalties to Prevent Excessive Use of Police Force The Police Accountability Act — sponsored by State Senator Kevin Parker in the Senate and to be sponsored by Assemblymember N. Nick Perry in the Assembly — seeks to establish criminal penalties for police officers who employ force that is grossly in excess of what is warranted under the circumstances and where that force causes physical injury or death. The level of charge would depend on the severity of the injuries caused.

“Our legal system makes it far too difficult to achieve fairness where police violence is concerned,” said Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris. “This legislative proposal will provide the tools necessary to hold wrongdoers accountable and move us closer to justice. I thank Attorney General James for her efforts on this important issue and look forward to working with her to get it done.”

BIDEN REDESIGNATES HAITI FOR TPS: Senator Chuck Schumer released the following statement on the Biden administration granting more than 100,000 Haitians in the US the opportunity to gain Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

“I’m proud the Biden administration heeded my call to redesignate Haiti for Temporary Protected Status, protecting Haitians in New York and across the country. Providing temporary protection to Haitian nationals in the United States is critically important as Haiti faces extreme instability. Concurrent crises including food insecurity, the COVID-19 pandemic and political unrest have left millions of Haitians in need of assistance. Congress created Temporary Protected Status to keep people from harm. Today’s action will grant more than 100,000 Haitians in the U.S. the opportunity to gain Temporary Protected Status and to receive that protection in America,” said Senator Schumer.

GILLIBRAND INTRO’S RESILIENT HIGHWAYS ACT: As the Senate negotiates a national infrastructure package, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand introduced the Resilient Highways Act. The legislation would increase federal resources for New York State, and states across the country, to rebuild more resilient infrastructure and make critical improvements to protect bridges, tunnels, and highways against future damage from sea-level rise, floods, wildfires and other disasters. Additionally, the legislation would incentivize investments in highway infrastructure to protect against future floods and natural disasters, saving money in the long-term.

“Shoring up our roads, tunnels, and bridges to protect against the growing risks of climate change and natural disasters is more than an investment in our infrastructure, it’s an investment in our economy and local communities. Families and business owners across New York State have already seen firsthand the enormous damage that rising sea levels and extreme weather are having on local economies, roads and bridges,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Proactive investment in repairs, facilitated by the Resilient Highways Act, would not only strengthen our infrastructure but it would also bring in good paying jobs and save money on future repairs. Congress has a responsibility to ensure states have the resources they need to protect their most essential infrastructure from the worst damage, and that’s exactly what the Resilient Highways Act would help do.”

New York State has experienced significant infrastructure damage in recent years due to extreme weather like Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene, and Tropical Storm Lee. This legislation would help states like New York better prepare their highway infrastructure for future risks by incorporating design features that protect against damage from flooding, storm surge, sea-level rise, and other climate impacts. The legislation could deliver resources to allow New York State to complete projects that improve infrastructure resiliency.

INTRO SENATE COMPANION TO POSTAL SERVICE REFORM ACT: On May 19, Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney, Ranking Member James Comer, Government Operations Subcommittee Chairman Gerald E. Connolly, and Committee Member Virginia Foxx issued the following statements:

“I would like to congratulate and thank Chairman Peters and Ranking Member Portman for introducing the bipartisan Senate companion to our Postal Service Reform Act,” said Chairwoman Maloney. “This bipartisan legislation is crucial to help the Postal Service get on a sustainable financial path for the future and ensure that the Postal Service is transparent with Congress and the American people. I look forward to working with Senators Peters and Portman to get this bill signed into law as soon as possible.”

The Postal Service’s financial condition has been deteriorating over the past decade due to a number of factors. The provisions included in the Postal Service Reform Act are critical to helping the Postal Service remain financially viable. The provisions include: Medicare integration, repealing a requirement for the Postal Service to pre-fund retiree health benefits, service performance reporting, reporting on Postal Service operations and finances, the requirement that the Postal Service operate six days per week, and other matters.

Committee Members Reps. Stephen F. Lynch and Brenda L. Lawrence contributed substa

ROBOCALLS TO ‘SUPPRESS BLACK VOTERS’: New York Attorney General Letitia James issued the following statement after Judge Victor Marrero of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granted her office’s motion to intervene in a federal lawsuit against Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman for attempting to suppress Black voters during the 2020 election: “The court’s decision is a critical step in our fight against those who seek to suppress the votes and voices of Black communities. Through their use of misleading and targeted robocalls, Wohl and Burkman illegally attempted to discourage Black voters from exercising their fundamental right to vote, in an effort to influence the election for their favored presidential candidate. I look forward to continuing to make our case in this matter, and I remain committed to ensuring that individuals are protected from harassment and intimidation when voting.”

In May 2021, Attorney General James announced that her office began a legal proceeding against two notorious conspiracy theorists over their efforts to suppress Black voters ahead of the 2020 election. An investigation conducted by the Office of the Attorney General found that Wohl and Burkman, while hiding behind their “sham organization, Project 1599,” violated state and federal laws by orchestrating robocalls to threaten and harass Black communities through disinformation, including claims that mail-in voters would have their personal information disseminated to law enforcement, debt collectors, and the government.

The Wohl and Burkman robocall campaign, which reached approximately 5,500 New Yorkers, sought to undermine and interfere with the then-ongoing efforts by the state of New York to fairly and safely administer its elections during the COVID-19 crisis and protect its citizens from voter intimidation and harassment. Attorney General James’ lawsuit seeks to cease further voter intimidation by Wohl, Burkman, and their associates.

EMERGENT CEO ADMITS TO MALONEY EXECS DUMPED STOCK: At the May 19 Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing examining Emergent Biosolutions’s multi-million-dollar contracts to produce vaccines, Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney questioned Emergent’s CEO Robert Kramer. Mr. Kramer admitted under questioning that the United States has been unable to use any coronavirus vaccines the company has produced due to contamination issues—despite the fact that the federal government has already paid Emergent more than $271 million. Kramer also admitted that corporate executives sold stock to make huge profits before news of the problems became public.

In October 2020, millions of AstraZeneca vaccines had to be destroyed because of suspected contamination at Emergent’s facility. Chairwoman Maloney asked Kramer about the aggressive plan to sell over $10 million in company stock that he entered into on November 13, 2020—just weeks after the company destroyed vaccines and before this was made public.

Chairwoman Maloney said: “It makes me think you were more interested in enriching yourself than serving the public. If it was my company, I would be there trying to get it fixed so that we could get the results of the contract. So far we have given your company $628 million and they have taken $271 million and as of yet, we have not gotten one usable vaccine.”

After Maloney repeatedly pressured Kramer to answer her question about whether or not the federal government could use any of Emergent’s vaccines, Kramer finally admitted, “none of the vaccine that we’ve manufactured has been made available to the U.S.”

Maloney also noted that if Kramer had sold his stocks today—instead of before the news of Emergent’s contamination broke—they would have been worth about half as much—$5 million rather than $10 million.

She concluded by saying, “Instead of thinking of ways to address your company’s contamination, you were thinking of ways to enrich yourself, and I am deeply troubled about this.  We lost so many lives and if we had the vaccines, we would have saved those lives.”

Kramer and Faud El-Hibri, the Chairman of the Board of Directors for Emergent, both agreed to testify again after producing the outstanding documents requested by Chairwoman Maloney and Chairman Clyburn.

‘ABUSIVE PRICING, ANTICOMPETITIVE PRACTICES’: On May 18, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, issued the following statement after releasing a staff report with new documents and details about AbbVie Inc., which sells the anti-inflammatory drug Humira and the cancer drug Imbruvica.

“Today’s staff report is the result of the Committee’s comprehensive two-year investigation into pharmaceutical pricing practices. The findings show how AbbVie repeatedly raised the price of life-saving drugs to satisfy corporate greed. These price hikes led to billions of dollars in corporate profits and enriched company executives while harming American patients and taxpayers. Far too often, American families are forced to choose between life-saving drugs and necessities like rent and groceries. If we want to make a difference for patients and taxpayers, we need structural reforms, like H.R.3, which would finally allow Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices like the rest of the world does.”

Today, AbbVie charges $77,586 for a year’s supply of Humira—470% more than when the drug launched in 2003. AbbVie charges $181,529 for a year’s supply of Imbruvica—82% more than when the drug was launched in 2013.

Below are the findings from the Committee’s investigation.

  • AbbVie intentionally targeted the U.S. for higher prices as it was forced to cut prices in the rest of the world.
  • AbbVie spent hundreds of millions of dollars on executive compensation and bonuses, including incentive payments explicitly tied to Humira revenue targets.
  • AbbVie predicted it would face biosimilar competition to Humira beginning in 2017, but it used a series of anticompetitive tactics, including patent settlement agreements, to delay biosimilar entry until 2023. According to internal documents, this delay cost the U.S. healthcare system $19 billion.
  • AbbVie built a patent thicket around both Humira and Imbruvica.  For Humira, AbbVie has obtained or applied for over 250 patents, the last of which is set to expire in 2037.  For Imbruvica, AbbVie has obtained over 150 patents, the last of which is set to expire in 2036.
  • AbbVie dedicated a significant portion of its research budget to suppressing biosimilar and generic competition, including investing in a Humira “enhancements” program to protect against biosimilar competition.

The prohibition on Medicare negotiating directly with pharmaceutical companies for lower prices cost taxpayers billions of dollars on Humira and Imbruvica. According to AbbVie’s internal data, taxpayers would have saved nearly $9 billion between 2010 and 2018 on Humira and Imbruvica if Medicare Part D had received the same price as programs such as the Department of Defense or Department of Veterans Affairs.

That day’s staff report presented findings from the Committee’s review of more than 170,000 pages of internal documents, communications, and data related to Humira and Imbruvica from 2009 to the present.

The full May 18 committee hybrid hearing with AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez and experts on pricing practices for Humira and Imbruvica can be viewed on the Committee’s website and YouTube.

‘INVESTIGATE ABBVIE FOR ANTICOMPETITIVE CONDUCT’: On May 18, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary, and Rep. David N. Cicilline, Chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law, sent a letter to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Acting Chair Rebecca Kelly Slaughter requesting a formal inquiry into AbbVie Inc.’s actions to delay U.S. biosimilar entry for its blockbuster drug Humira.

“We make this request in light of previously non-public documents obtained by the Committee on Oversight and Reform during its multi-year investigation of AbbVie,” the Members wrote. “Based on our review, these documents indicate that AbbVie delayed biosimilar competition for far longer than warranted by its own internal evaluations of the strength of its patent portfolio, which anticipated biosimilar entry no later than 2017. We ask that you investigate whether this delay was the result of anticompetitive conduct in violation of U.S. law.”

Earlier that day, Chairwoman Maloney released a staff report and accompanying documents based on the review of more than 170,000 pages of AbbVie’s internal documents, communications, and data related to Humira and Imbruvica from 2009 to the present.

AbbVie is the sole U.S. manufacturer of Humira, an injectable biologic agent approved to treat inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, plaque psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and Crohn’s disease. AbbVie charges approximately $77,000 for a year’s supply of Humira—470% more than when the drug was launched in 2003. In part due to AbbVie’s price increases, Humira is the highest-grossing drug in the United States.  In 2020 alone, AbbVie collected $16 billion in U.S. net revenue for Humira.

AbbVie faces no current competition in the United States from lower-priced biosimilar versions of Humira, even though six biosimilars have received marketing approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

“As the FTC is aware, AbbVie has entered into nine patent settlement agreements with potential biosimilar competitors,” the Members wrote. “Under the terms of these agreements, Amgen will not introduce its biosimilar until January 31, 2023, and other biosimilars will enter later that year. In contrast, AbbVie already faces competition in Europe from at least six biosimilars, and the price of the drug has fallen by as much as 80% since competition first entered the market.”

The Members also asked the FTC to examine whether AbbVie engaged in other anticompetitive conduct to maintain its market share and pricing power for Humira, such as shifting patients to a higher concentration formulation of the drug and using bundled rebates to exclude rivals of preferred formulary positions.

That day, the Committee on Oversight and Reform held a hybrid hearing with AbbVie CEO, Richard Gonzalez, and experts on pricing practices for Humira and Imbruvica.

RALLY FOR CLIMATE AND COMMUNITY ACT: On May 18, state representatives, activists, and community leaders rallied at Astoria Park to call for movement on the New York Climate and Community Investment Act (“CCIA”, S.4264-A/A.6967). There is growing support for the bill in both houses of the state legislature, but with the state legislative session coming to a close on June 10th, activists urged the Governor and the New York State Legislature to act swiftly to pass the bill this year.

The CCIA would “make polluters pay,” raising $10-$15 billion per year over the next ten years through a fee on greenhouse gases and co-pollutants. The fee would largely be paid by the companies importing fossil fuels into New York State, and would ensure the dedicated revenue necessary to meet the goals set forth in New York’s landmark climate legislation, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which was passed in 2019.

The revenue raised by the CCIA would fund an estimated 160,000 green jobs, the development of renewable energy infrastructure, and investment in communities hit hardest by the climate crisis. Low- and moderate-income New Yorkers in New York City could also automatically receive a yearly tax credit of $700.

Joining the rally were Assemblymembers Jessica González-Rojas and Ron Kim, Senators Jessica Ramos and John Liu, District 22 City Council candidate Tiffany Cabán, youth climate activist Xiye Bastida, Executive Director of TREEage Shiv Soin, and a spoken word performance by Jellissa (@iamqueenofdrafts). The rally was one of 12 that took place across the state that day, during which organizers in Long Island, Ithaca, Albany, Westchester, Buffalo, and NYC called for passage of the CCIA.

“We passed the CLCPA in 2019 and that was one of the most historic climate justice bills and laws now in the country, however, it does not have teeth unless we pass the CCIA. So I am so proud to have been five months in the state legislature and I’ve been throwing down on the climate justice work. I’m a part of the Environmental Conservation Committee and I’m ready to right alongside my colleagues to finally have a fully invested CLCPA and pass the CCIA for once and for all,” said Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas

“The landmark legislation that we passed a couple years ago was in many ways aspirational. It had to be a first step, but now we have to work towards implementing it to meet the deadlines and the goals and the Climate Community Investment Act, the CCIA, which we’re all out here rallying for will help bring us closer to that goal on the right timeline. This is what we need to do, we need to make the polluters pay. We need to make sure they understand that by polluting, they are imposing a cost on everybody else,” said Senator John Liu.

“If we get climate right, if we get energy right, we will have an abundant economy. The cost of energy will reach near zero every time we use energy. That’s what we should be striving for, not marketizing, not profiting, not exploiting the value of local communities which is what has been the normalized condition for so many years. But by holding the large corporations accountable, we can get to a better place and we can have a radical green new deal. So I support it, and let’s get to work,” said Assemblymember Ron Kim.

“By passing the CCIA, what we’re doing is saying that we have the money to make the commitment that we’ve been talking about for such a long time. It’s putting our money where our mouth is, it’s making sure it’s not just us paying lip service to climate change to the catastrophe that mankind has created here on Earth but for us to really make sure that our communities are centered in the solution to reversing decades and centuries of polluting and bad behavior on our behalf. We’re still a long way to go and there’s still a lot of work to do but I’m glad we’re doing it together and it’s really important we get this bill passed as soon as possible so that we can save our planet,” said Senator Jessica Ramos.

“The beautiful thing about this that’s so important is that in my mind is yes it provides a stimulus, and it’s going to create jobs, but it also opens up the conversation around climate reparations and making sure that we are deeply investing in the communities that have been on the frontlines and born the brunt of the climate crisis,” said Tiffany Cabán, candidate for City Council District 22.

“We’ve been really supportive of the bill the CCIA because it’s time for actual climate justice in New York City and State. It’s enough talk, it’s time for action. In the last two years, we’ve passed transformative climate bills but we still don’t have the teeth for them to be enforced. The CCIA will put penalties on polluters, it will put investments directly into communities like right here in Queens and make sure we have the money, the resources for what we’ve been all talking about, a just transition, renewable energy, and thousands of good green jobs. The CCIA in the next ten years will create 160,000 new jobs all over the city and state which is absolutely necessary when just our city alone has lost 600,000 jobs since this pandemic has begun. This is not just a climate bill, it’s a climate justice bill, an economic stimulus bill, a bill for our future,” said Shiv Soin, TREEage.

FUND STUDY FOR ECOSYSTEM RESTORATION IN HOWARD BEACH: This week, U.S. Representative Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08) sent a letter requesting the Biden Administration fund a feasibility study for ecosystem restoration and hurricane and storm damage risk reduction for Spring Creek South and Howard Beach in the Fiscal Year 2022 budget. Jeffries secured a directive in the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 to expedite the completion of this study.

The New York City area, along with the entire Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic United States, was severely impacted by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. This historic storm killed more than 280 people and caused more than $70 billion in damage, making it one of the costliest natural disasters in American history. The Howard Beach community continues to face flooding during both major and minor storms.

“The study will recommend a comprehensive, integrated solution to provide the community with a resilient and environmentally sustainable shoreline, providing long-needed storm risk management benefits and restoring critical habitat,” wrote Rep. Jeffries. “The residents and businesses of Howard Beach need assistance, and this feasibility study represents an opportunity to deliver on our promise to build back better for the American people.”

MTA LAUNCHES APPLE BUSINESS CHAT: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced on May 19 the launch of an Apple Business Chat pilot program for subway and bus riders. The added feature will allow Apple users to communicate directly with NYC Transit through iMessages, Apple’s proprietary secure text message system. Subway and bus riders will now be able to chat with a NYC Transit customer service specialist in real time using the Messages app on iOS devices. The Authority first introduced the feature, driven by technology called “Apple Business Chat,” in mid-April with a soft launch that included a marketing push with signage in stations and onboard subways and buses.

With Apple Business Chat, iPhone users will have the ability to have more personable, one-on-one conversations with customer service specialists. The chat is activated through the Apple Messages app. Once a user begins a conversation with NYC Transit an automated assistant will bring up a menu of options for the customer to choose from, ranging from the next train or bus, find out if there is planned work going on, report a MetroCard issue or a safety concern. Once the customer provides that information, a member of the NYC Transit digital customer service team—the same team that currently manages customer service via WhatsApp, Twitter, and Facebook—can help answer questions and get issues resolved starting with the first reply.

The Apple Business Chat feature comes after the successful rollout out of WhatsApp in October 2020. WhatsApp proved to be especially helpful for non-native English speakers using the system. By using Google Translate, frontline personnel from NYC Transit’s DCU team are able to interact with customers about real time service changes or other matters in real time in 108 languages.

Android users can reach out to NYC Transit’s DCU team using WhatsApp, Twitter or Facebook.

For those who prefer to contact the MTA by telephone, information is available by dialing 511, the New York State Travel Information Line. Those who are deaf or hard of hearing can use their preferred service provider for the free 711 relay to reach the MTA at 511.

ADDABBO OFFER FREE PROSTATE EXAMS: As Father’s Day approaches, State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. wants to remind the men in his district to be sure to stay on top of their health and schedule a free prostate screening through his office this June. On Friday, June 18 — two days before Father’s Day — medical professionals from Integrated Medical Foundation (IMF) will be at Addabbo’s Middle Village district office, located at 66-85 73rd Place, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. giving free PSA blood tests to men who register for the event.

“As men age, it is vitally important that they take care of their prostate health through annual exams because if something is wrong, it is essential to catch prostate cancer early,” Senate Addabbo said. “That is why I coordinated with the great people at Integrated Medical Foundation to bring this prostate cancer screening to my district. There is no better way to celebrate Father’s Day than with a clean bill of health!”

This free screening event is open to men age 40 or older who have never been previously diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer, whether or not they have insurance.

Unlike in past years, men who participate will not need to bring a self-addressed, stamped envelope with them to the screening. This year they will need to bring with them a form of photo ID, and provide their name, address, phone number, email address, and date of birth at the time of registration.

Appointments for the screening session is required as space is limited. Anyone interested in attending the session must call Addabbo’s Howard Beach office at 718-738-1111 to schedule an appointment.

MALONEY FLOOR STATEMENT CONDEMNS HATE CRIMES: Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney gave the following statement on the Floor of the House of Representatives on May 18 condemning “the horrific shootings” in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 16, and “reaffirming the House of Representative’s commitment to combating hate, bigotry, and violence against the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community.”

Rep. Maloney said, “I rise in support of H. Res. 275, condemning the horrific shootings that led to the tragic loss of 8 American lives in Atlanta, Georgia on March 16th.  The people of the United States mourn the 8 innocent lives lost, 6 of whom were women of Asian descent, and several of whom were immigrants.

“I want to thank Congresswoman Judy Chu for her leadership on this issue, and for introducing this important resolution.

“Over the past year, Asian Americans have been attacked and harassed because of misinformation and xenophobia that wrongly blamed them for the coronavirus pandemic. And, sadly, incidents of violence against Asian Americans are on the rise across our country.

“The heinous shooting in Georgia was a wake-up call for the public to the reality the Asian American community is facing.  Acts of violence like these demonstrate why we must always call out bigotry and hate — wherever and whenever we see it.

“In New York City, the number of anti-Asian hate crimes reported to the police increased by 833 percent last year, the most out of any major U.S. city.  This is simply unacceptable.

“By voting to pass this resolution, the House of Representatives will clearly state our condemnation of the heinous and inexcusable acts of gun violence that led to the tragic loss of 8 lives in Georgia on March 16th.  The resolution also condemns any racism and sexism that contributed to the shooter’s targeting of Asian-owned businesses and murder of 7 women, 6 of whom were women of Asian descent.

“This resolution honors the memory of the victims, and the loved ones they leave behind. The healing process will be long and difficult for the Asian American and Pacific Islander community and all communities impacted by this tragedy.  Importantly, the resolution affirms the commitment of the federal government to combat hate, bigotry, and violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and to prevent tragedies like this in the future — a commitment I hope all of my colleagues can agree on.

“I am proud to stand in solidarity with the Asian American and Pacific Islander community in calling for an end to the targeted attacks like the one we saw in Atlanta. I strongly support this resolution, and I urge my colleagues to do the same.”

PROTECTING COMMUNITY REINVESTMENT ACT: As part of landmark civil rights legislation passed in the 1960s and 1970s, the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) was created in response to redlining, a practice by which banks discriminated against prospective customers based primarily on where they lived, or their racial or ethnic background, rather than creditworthiness. The OCC rule which is now under review would weaken the agency’s implementation of the law, which could lead to disinvestment in many low- and moderate-income communities.

At the May 19 Financial Services virtual hearing titled “Oversight of Prudential Regulators: Ensuring the Safety, Soundness, Diversity, and Accountability of Depository Institutions,” Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), senior member of the committee, commended Mr. Michael Hsu, Acting Comptroller of the Currency, on the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s (OCC) announcement the day before that the agency would reconsider a rule “that would significantly weaken the CRA and leave our most vulnerable communities behind.”

In response to the May 18 OCC announcement, Rep. Maloney asked Mr. Hsu, “Do you believe that our communities would be best served by having one uniform standard across the banking regulators, rather than different standards for each regulator and their related financial institutions?”

Acting Comptroller Hsu replied, “As a general matter, yes. I think that is definitely the case. I think there are a lot of devilish details here, and I’m waiting to review to get that confirmed. […] I think when the agencies act together, the effects are stronger and more sustained. And I think that’s been proven many times.”

Rep. Maloney continued, “And I’d like to ask you, what deficiencies in the final rule led the OCC to make its decision to reconsider the 2020 rulemaking?”

Mr. Hsu answered, “I think it really comes back to those three factors I cited before, which is the impact of the pandemic, I think will become much more clear, it’s just the need is sharpened and we have more data to support that. The comments on the Fed’s [Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking], I think there are a lot of comments there that we have been following very closely, so it’s new information there. And again, part of our experience with the partial implementation of the rule, which has had its ups and downs, I don’t know all the details around that, but the combination of those factors really prompted me and staff to say, okay, we need to reconsider this.”

REVISED FY ’21 FUNDING FOR PUBLIC HOUSING: U.S. Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced on May 20 an increase in Community Development Block (CDBG) program funding originally announced by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on Thursday, February 25. After discovering a calculation error, HUD recently released the revised allocation totaling $333,107,801 for fifty recipients across New York State, each receiving a 1.5% increase in funding from the original calculation.

“The Community Development Block Grant is a vital stream of investment that supports services to seniors and families, including affordable housing. Even as New York reopens, we must not forget to continue to invest in our future, and this funding recalculation does just that,” said Senator Schumer. “I worked hard to get this funding on the negotiating table in federal aid packages, and I will always fight tooth and nail to deliver this critical investment for our communities.”

“The Community Development Block Grant Program provides critical investments that support local economic development and jobs, community revitalization, and affordable housing across New York,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I am pleased to announce this increase in CDBG funding that will help support so many New Yorkers and communities during the pandemic.”

Communities across New York State use CDBG funding to address a wide range of needs. The funding enables local governments to support affordable housing initiatives and expand economic development. The CDBG program provides municipalities in New York with the critical funding needed to leverage outside investment in job creation projects and the reconstruction of public facilities, neighborhood facilities, senior centers, centers for the handicapped, recreation facilities, and streetlights. The funds continue to play a critical role in facilitating local economic development across New York State and in helping local governments succeed.

WORKERS’ VOICES MUST BE AT TABLE: Senator Jessica Ramos released the following statement on proposed for-hire-vehicle and delivery worker legislation: “Nothing that is done without workers is for workers. As Chair of the Senate Committee on Labor and State Senator to the largest number of TLC licensees in New York, I cannot support legislation crafted without uncompromised worker voices at the table and I will not stand aside while billion-dollar corporations try to legislate the lives of immigrant workers, my neighbors. My neighbors are not second-class workers. We will not legitimize any company union. We will not undermine the PRO Act.”

FOSTER YOUTH RALLY TO SAVE FAIR FUTURES: Former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia and Council Member Stephen Levin rallied with the Fair Futures coalition, composed of over 200 former and current foster youth and child welfare advocates, at City Hall Park to call on Mayor de Blasio to sustain and baseline funding for the Fair Futures model after he “decimated funding for the program in his FY22 Executive Budget. After reaffirming his commitment to the city’s youth in care on multiple occasions, de Blasio’s Executive Budget only allocated $2.7 million in funding for Fair Futures, a far cry from the baseline $20 million needed to sustain the program for the long term,” according to a release by organizers.

First Deputy Public Advocate Nick Smith and Jamal Wilkerson, Chief of Staff to Council Member Adrienne Adams, also joined the youth at the rally.

“Time and time again the Mayor pledged his support to New York City’s foster youth but he failed to include the necessary funding for Fair Futures in his executive budget,” said Ericka Francois, Fair Futures Youth Coordinator and former foster youth. “I’ve spoken with so many current and former youth in care that have been able to succeed with help from the Fair Futures support network and want to see the program prosper. Before July 1st, the Mayor still has the opportunity to reaffirm his commitment to us and pass a budget that includes $20 million in baselined funding for Fair Futures. To rip away essential supports for New York foster youth now would be absolutely devastating. Our Mayor needs to step up.”

“Fair Futures, a transformative support network implemented at 26 foster care agencies in New York City, connects youth in foster care, 85% of whom are Black or Latinx, with one-on-one dedicated coaches, tutors and education, employment and housing specialists starting in middle school. Ensuring all youth in care have access to Fair Futures is essential to giving them a fair shot at success and uprooting systemic injustices that disproportionately affect children in foster care. By baselining this funding, young people in care will have continued access to these support services which has become even more critical as youth deal with housing, education, financial and mental health difficulties in this pandemic and during the city’s recovery,” stated organizers.

“As someone who’s been involved with the foster system and has had the opportunity to speak with so many Fair Futures coaches and staff, I truly say that this is one of the most impactful programs within the system,” said Demetrius Napolitano, a former foster youth and yoga and meditation instructor. The relationships that youth in care have built with their coaches, specialists and tutors are authentic and life changing for so many. The Mayor’s executive budget would tear away and disrupt these important relationships that have been a key part of the development and success of kids who have the support of Fair Futures. We must preserve this proven, successful program and that starts with making sure it has needed funding from the City.”

“To move through this recovery, we need to embrace a Renewed Deal for New York –not austerity, but investment in the future. Critically, that means investing in our young people, especially those who the system often leaves out or leaves behind,” said Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. “That investment should include the Fair Futures program, which provides invaluable resources and support for youth in foster care facing a wide range of challenges. Supporting most marginalized New Yorkers needs to be at the core of our budget and our recovery.”

“The pandemic brought many unforeseen challenges to many youths in the foster care system. As a coach, I provided 24/7 emotional support to young people in care, sent friendly reminders to social distance and practice good hygiene habits, and assisted with the immediate goals of each youth,” said Samantha Guyadeen, former foster youth and Fair Futures coach. “As someone who was a teen in foster care, and who would have benefited from a program like Fair Futures, it is highly important that New York City baseline funding for Fair Futures and ensure that all vulnerable youth have access to this support.”

“As we emerge from this pandemic, we must rise to the occasion when it comes to supporting our most vulnerable. As Chair of the Committee on General Welfare, I know all too well that our foster care system has long faced a myriad of issues and challenges. Our City should be elevating and supporting models such as Fair Futures, which has demonstrated significant benefits from life coaching and academic support services, increasing high school graduation rates from 21% to 94% and has supported communities of color,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “ I believe in our youth, and our foster youth need us just as much as we need them. Having seen firsthand the exceptional character and hard work of the foster youth who have come through this program, I can say with certainty that we cannot afford 3,000 foster youth losing a critical support system which has been nothing short of transformative. The Mayor’s budget allocated just $2.7M in funding, far short of the $20M needed to ensure the long-term sustainability of Fair Futures. I stand with Fair Futures and my colleagues and call on Mayor de Blasio to baseline $20M in funding for Fair Futures in the adopted budget.”

APPLY NOW FOR EXCELSIOR SCHOLARSHIP 2021-2022:

New York State is committed to providing students with the option of attending a city or state university at an affordable rate, and State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. wants to let his constituents know that applications for the Excelsior Scholarship are now open.

The Excelsior Scholarship, in combination with other aid programs, allows eligible full-time students to attend a CUNY or SUNY two-year or four-year college tuition-free. Nearly 230,000 New York residents attend CUNY or SUNY tuition-free thanks to the addition of students receiving the Excelsior Scholarship.

To be eligible for an Excelsior Scholarship for the 2021-22 academic year, the student’s household federal adjusted gross income can total up to $125,000.

Student who want to apply for the scholarship must also meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Plan to attend a SUNY or CUNY two or four-year college;
  • Complete 30 credits per year towards their program of study (including Summer and Winter terms);
  • Be on track to graduate on time with an Associate’s Degree in two years or a Bachelor’s Degree in four years; and
  • Recipients must also plan to live in New York State for the length of time they received the award.

“In today’s world, having just a high school diploma may not cut it anymore as many jobs require some amount of college education,” Addabbo — a member of the Senate Education Committee — said. “In order to compete in a global market, New York is dedicated to having the best of the best. That is why we are making higher education more accessible to more families across the state. I encourage families and students in my district to take advantage of this program and apply for the Excelsior Scholarship.”

The 2021-22 Excelsior Scholarship application is open to first-time students entering college in the Fall 2021 and current college students who have never received the Excelsior Scholarship. Current Excelsior Scholarship recipients should not complete this application.

Students can register for the Excelsior Scholarship here: webapps.hesc.ny.gov/questionnaire/page.hesc?questionnaireId=58&versionNumber=4

Students eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship under the Senator José Peralta New York State DREAM Act can apply here: nysdream.applyists.net/.

Applications will be accepted through August 31, 2021.

SCHOOL ENROLLMENT SIMPLIFIED FOR MILITARY FAMILIES: The New York State Assembly recently passed Assemblyman Edward C. Braunstein’s (D-Bayside) bill A.6528-A, which allows military families relocating to New York State to enroll their children in school at the same time as their peers, prior to physically arriving in the neighborhood. Assemblyman Braunstein’s district includes Fort Totten, located in Bay Terrace, Queens.

The Defense Department estimates that the average child in a military family will move six to nine times during a school career. Over 185,000 military children move between schools annually, causing them to potentially miss important registration, application or extracurricular enrollment periods within their new school community. If enacted, the bill would make New York the twenty-fifth state which has enacted a policy for military children to help ensure their uninterrupted education and timely graduation.

In a memorandum of support for the policy in the bill, the United States Department of Defense wrote that, “With over 16,500 active duty military school-age children attending school in this state, New York is in a unique position to have a positive effect on the educational experiences of military children and families by enacting this legislation. We are grateful to Assemblyman Ed Braunstein, who represents Fort Totten, for helping shepherd this important legislation through the Assembly.” The bill passes the Assembly as the country celebrates Military Appreciation Month and commemorates Memorial Day this May.

“As we prepare to honor the servicemen and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country this Memorial Day, I’m proud to advance legislation that seeks to alleviate the challenges military members and their families face due to frequent moves,” said Assemblyman Edward Braunstein. “This important legislation would help offer military children the best possible educational experience while they and their families call New York State home.”

This bill passed the Assembly on May 19th and the companion bill is being carried in the New York State Senate by Senator James Skoufis.

GARCIA PLANS TO PERMANENTLY DRIVE DOWN HOMELESSNESS: New York City Mayoral Candidate Kathryn Garcia just announced detailed and sweeping plans to permanently drive down homelessness to the lowest levels in 20 years. Standing outside the NYC DHS-operated 30th Street Men’s Shelter in Manhattan, Garcia joined together with Tracy Nuzzo, an advocate and formerly unhoused New Yorker, to outline the City’s worsening housing affordability crisis and deliver her vision to guarantee housing for all New Yorkers.

In the last decade, we have added 500,000 New Yorkers but only 100,000 units of new housing, Garcia noted. “As of January this year, the majority of people in City shelters are people of color, a disproportionate amount of whom are Black (57%). We, as a city, are falling deeper into a housing and affordability crisis—one that was badly exacerbated by COVID-19 and that disproportionately hurts Black and brown New Yorkers—and we face a looming eviction cliff.”

According to her campaign, as mayor, “Garcia would make housing affordable to all New Yorkers and treat homelessness as an emergency. Garcia has the hands-on housing experience and proven leadership ability of bringing public and private sectors together to ensure that with the infusion of tremendous federal funds, smart local investments, and sensible policies, New York City has the opportunity to dramatically shift from a “shelter first” strategy to a “housing first” strategy.”

Said Kathryn Garcia, “It’s time to take on one of the toughest problems our city has faced in the past few decades – making sure New Yorkers who are living on the streets or in homeless shelters find permanent, safe, and supportive housing. When you’ve had it that tough, getting back into your own home is more than having a roof over your head. Housing heals. Housing gives you a firm and grounded place to rebuild your life and reclaim your place in the world.

“That’s why in my first term as mayor, I will commit to reduce homelessness to the lowest levels of the last 20 years and combat the cycle that keeps people from thriving and getting back on their feet in this city. In a Garcia Administration, we will take big, sweeping actions during my first term to address the housing crisis, improve quality of life, and bring homelessness down to the lowest level we’ve seen in 20 years.

“The plan is simple: We will get New Yorkers off of the street, build more affordable homes, prevent evictions, and fix the broken bureaucracy that gets in the way.”

Garcia plans to make systemic changes to drive down the number of unhoused New Yorkers by half in her first term—the lowest level in over two decades.

  1. Reduce housing prices by increasing supply. Garcia’s affordable housing plan will:

-Frontload the construction of 10,000 new supportive housing units for our most vulnerable residents; and 50,000 affordable apartments across the city for our neighbors making less than 30% of the Area Median Income – residents who have been overlooked and undervalued by our elected leaders for far too long.

-Convert under-utilized hotels and city-owned property to housing, rehabilitate and renovate old apartment buildings, and convert shelters to permanent housing to have thousands of move-in ready apartments in Garcia’s first term.

-Make logical zoning changes to make it easier to build all kinds of housing for all New Yorkers to expand supply—a proven strategy to reduce rents and expand choices for people of all incomes.

-Support the construction of new energy efficient units at a higher pace than any year of Mayor de Blasio’s Housing New York plan.

  1. Invest in preventing homelessness before it starts. Garcia will expand eligibility for the Right to Counsel to include households at 200% to 400% of the Federal Poverty Line.

The Community Service Society estimates that this will make between 55,000 and 70,000 more families eligible for counsel during eviction proceedings.

Given the success rates of the Right to Counsel program in preventing eviction, this is a common-sense approach to homelessness.

  1. Provide New Yorkers rental assistance they can actually use to live in the neighborhood of their choice. Garcia will:

-Expand rental assistance programs and simplify them so that more families can stay in their homes or move into stable homes and not go to shelter.

-Lead on raising the value of the City’s vouchers to match the value of federal Section 8 vouchers.

-Increase the number of enforcement staff at the New York City Commission on Human Rights to crack down on landlords who illegally discriminate against prospective tenants for any reason—whether it be the color of their skin, the language they speak, their choice of gender, or if they use a voucher to pay the rent.

  1. Unify responsibility for housing and homelessness under a single Deputy Mayor.  By centralizing accountability, Garcia will focus the City’s vast resources on ending homelessness.
  2. Fix the broken homelessness bureaucracy and replace it with a human-centered approach.

NOLAN ENDORSES GARCIA FOR MAYOR: Deputy Speaker of the New York State Assembly Cathy Nolan just announced her endorsement of Kathryn Garcia for Mayor of New York City.

Despite undergoing cancer treatment, Assemblywoman Nolan expressed that in an election as consequential as this one, she didn’t want to delay in endorsing the most qualified candidate for the job. There are some things that are just too important to wait, and the future of New York City is at the top of that list.

Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan said, “Kathryn Garcia is the only candidate with the vision and experience to lead our city to recovery. New Yorkers are still reeling from COVID and it will take a well-practiced manager with the government success that Kathryn has to ensure we get back on track — and to ensure our government actually works and delivers for all of us.

“We have no time to waste with on-the-job training. New Yorkers need and deserve a leader who will get to work on Day One. We need a capable and decisive manager who won’t have to lean on other folks to do the job for her. Rather, we need a mayor who knows how to build and empower collaborative teams to execute on her vision. To put it more simply, we need Kathryn Garcia. As someone who has seen a lot of mayors come and go —some better than others— I am proud to endorse Kathryn for mayor and can’t wait to see her win the Democratic primary on June 22nd.”

Kathryn Garcia said, “I am incredibly proud to have Assemblywoman Nolan’s endorsement. Over the years, I have seen her work tirelessly to deliver a more livable Queens for her constituents and a fairer education system for all New York’s school children, as Chair of the Education Committee. Assemblywoman Nolan knows better than anyone what it will take to recover our economy and get our city back on track. I am honored to have her support and to partner with her to rebuild a New York City that is safer, more affordable, and truly livable for all of us.”

Assemblywoman Nolan’s endorsement comes after a week of major back-to-back endorsements from The New York Times and The New York Daily News. In both endorsements, New York City’s leading newspapers called Garcia the candidate best equipped for this moment of recovery — the candidate “who best understands how to get New York back on its feet and has the temperament and the experience to do so.”

Garcia’s campaign has been endorsed by several other prominent elected officials and leaders, including:

State Senator Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan)

Assembly Member Nily Rozic (D-Queens)

Assembly Member Danny O’Donnell (D-Manhattan)

Former Mayoral Candidate Brigadier General (Ret.) Loree Sutton

State Senator Diane Savino, RCV #2 (D-Brooklyn and Staten Island)

Former Council Member Costa Constantinides, RCV #2 (D-Queens)

Grand Street Democrats

Garcia launched her campaign with endorsements from every labor union she has managed – collectively representing over 10,000 city workers – including:

The Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association Teamsters Local 831

SEIU Local 246 Auto Mechanics Union

Teamsters Local 813

The Sanitation Officers Association SEIU Local 444

Uniformed Sanitation Chiefs Association

According to Garcia’s campaign, “As election day nears, it’s clear that Garcia’s vision for a safe, livable, and affordable New York City is resonating with working New Yorkers in all five boroughs. While other candidates speak in platitudes and vagaries, Garcia offers New Yorkers ambitious but achievable plans and the roadmap to get them done. With only 36 days to go, more and more New Yorkers agree: Garcia is the only candidate equipped to deliver a strong and equitable recovery.”

Representing Assembly District 37—which includes the neighborhoods of Sunnyside, Ridgewood, Long Island City, Queensbridge, Ravenswood, Astoria, Woodside, Maspeth, Dutch Kills and Blissville—Assemblywoman Nolan has fought hard for her constituents. A champion for working families and progressive causes, Nolan has dedicated her time and energy to issues like paid family leave, workers’ rights, health care, and education.

As Chair of the Assembly’s Education Committee (2006 – 2018), Nolan spearheaded efforts to achieve class size reduction, universal pre-k, middle school initiatives, improve high school graduation rates, and other measures to prioritize the education and long-term success of New York’s more than three million school children.

STRINGER’S ETHICS REFORM PLAN: City Comptroller and NYC Mayoral candidate Scott Stringer just released a sweeping ethics reform plan to bring change to City Hall. He said, “New Yorkers deserve complete faith that their officials make public decisions based on the public interest. We need a recovery for all our communities, and that means ending the special back-door access reserved for only the wealthy and well-connected.

“As Mayor, I will end the cycle of pay to play and insider favoritism in city government. Here’s what my plan will deliver:

  1. Enact a total ban on campaign contributions and contribution bundling by anyone doing business with the City or lobbying the City.
  2. Extend those restrictions for one year following the conclusion of City business.
  3. Prohibit donors and bundlers who violate campaign finance laws from doing business with the City. (Right now, they face little or no consequences.)
  4. Install an Ethics Czar in City Hall with a mandate to ensure impeccably ethical behaviour at all levels of government.
  5. Enhance transparency by giving an independent authority the final word on decisions about disclosures made under the Freedom of Information Law.

“These reforms build off of my 30-year legacy of championing good government and ethical public service. Throughout my career, I have led efforts to abolish rules that gave lobbyists special access to lawmakers and have relentlessly exposed waste and fraud by government and private actors alike.

“As we come out of this pandemic, there should be no doubt among New Yorkers about who City Hall works for.

“I will be ready on day one to break the culture of corruption fueled by big money in politics and clean up our government.”

OVER 100 LGBTQ SUPPORT QUIROZ: for

New York City Council in Jackson Heights and Elmhurst

Learn more about Alfonso Quiroz at www.alfonsonyc.com

NEW YORK – Today,

More than 100 LGBTQ business owners, artists, advocates, political club leaders, and longtime New Yorkers announced support for community activist Alfonso Quiroz in the June 22 Democratic primary for the District 25 New York City Council seat representing Jackson Heights and Elmhurst. The announcement follows the endorsements of New York State Assemblyman Danny O’Donnell, LGBTQ Victory Fund, Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City, and former New York State Governor David Paterson, a staunch champion of marriage equality and LGBTQ rights.

“This June we mark LGBTQ Pride Month, a moment not only to celebrate how far we have come, but to redouble our efforts to achieve full equality for all,” Alfonso Quiroz said. “Across our nation, we are witnessing a surge of hateful acts against people because of the color of their skin, religion, ethnicity, and gender identity. LGBTQ rights continue to be under attack, threatened by state legislatures that seek to discriminate based on how we identify, and who we love. We must stand together against all forms of hate.” Quiroz added, “I am extremely grateful for this overwhelming support from people I have come to know during more than two decades in New York City, from people I have marched with, who have served on the frontlines in the fight for equality and opportunity. Many have led or been a part of civic and political groups, but many others are small business owners, active in their neighborhoods and the community I call home. They want to live in a society free from harassment and bias. As their elected representative, I will not waver in my fight to achieve equality for all.”

Quiroz is a former president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Queens. He is vice president of the JFK Democratic Club and a member of the Queens Theater board, the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City, and the Jackson Heights Beautification Group. As the founder of the 37th Avenue Sidewalk Cafe Coalition, he advocated for the expansion of outdoor dining along 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights. In his neighborhood, Quiroz has served as deputy chief of staff to former Councilmember Helen Sears and is a former Democratic district leader in Queens. He was a White House intern when President Clinton was in office and served as a field organizer for Al Gore’s 2000 campaign. Learn more Alfonso Quiroz’s stances on issues at alfonsonyc.com/en/platform.

Alfonso Quiroz is proud to have support from more than 100 LGBTQ individuals, including several former Board Presidents at Stonewall Democrats, small business owners, community leaders, and everyday New Yorkers: Adolph Victoria, Alan Seceñas, Albert Lewitinn, Alberto Lopez, Alex Fernandez, Alonzo Velasquez, Amadeo Baltazar, Andro Kim, Angel Felicia, Angel Pabon, Anthony Cinelli, Antonio Negrete, Anu Singh, Barbara Herr, Benjamin Curran, Bernie Caciola, Bob Zuckerman, Brad Vincent Bradley, Brice Peyre, Bruce Sussman, Camden Pyne, Carlos Zuluaga, Charles Blaha, Charles O’Byrne, Charles Ober, Christopher Miller, Dan Sokol, Daniel Diaz, Daniel O’Donnell, Danny Bello, Daryl Cochrane, David McDonagh, David Suk, David Wong, Denise Shanks, Diego Serebrinsky, Eddie Gonzalez-Novoa, Edgar Rodriguez, Eduardo Espinosa, Elias John Broderick, Erik Gordon, Ernesto Arauz Paredes, Fredy Kaplan, Gabriel Aldana, Gary Parker, Golen Perez, Graham Weinstein, Grant Neumann, Gustavo Mustafa, Harris Doran, Hector Bosquez, Henry Clavijo, Hugo Ovejero, Ismael Rivera, Ivan Castaño, J. Knighten Smit, Jaime Meisler, James Monroe Števko, Jason Drucker, Jhonny Ramirez, Jimmy Rivera, Joel Ponder, John Banchon Vera, John Gallagher, Jonathan Steed, Jonathan St. Julien, Jorge Gomez, Jorge Manuel Santiago, Jose Luis Buchelli, Joseph Lim, Joseph Rollins, Josh Ginsburg, Juan Castaño, Julia Maddox, Kate Lodvikov, Kenneth Sherrill, Lee Wilson, Lisa Cannistraci, Luis Magno, Mario Girón, Mark Chesnut, Mark Cutolo, Marty Algaze, Matthew Carlin, Matthew Lesieur, Max Flores, Michael Liu, Michael Morrison, Neill Coleman, Oscar Lovato, Oscar Ramos, Pablo Elizaga, Patrick Wesonga, Paul Hendley, Paul Kolbusz, Paul McDonnell, Rafael Belber, Renato Gil, Rex Bobbish, Ricardo Lopez, Rico Sánchez, Rob Byrne, Rob Shuter, Roberto Chavez, Rodrigo Salazar, Ronnie Cohen, Roy Adams, Scott Kramer, Sebastian Ariel Burd, Seth Weissman, Shawn Cowls, Terrance Giusto, Thomas Chilton, Thomas Shanahan, Tom Smith, Tyrone Pantoja, William R. Joyce.

EQUAL PAY FOR EMS WORKERS: In honor of National EMS Week, Kathryn Garcia, Democratic candidate for mayor of New York City released the following statement: “Every single day, New Yorkers depend on Emergency Medical Services (EMS) workers to respond to life-or-death emergencies and to protect our city’s most vulnerable. This past year, as COVID swept our city, EMS workers – who are predominantly Black, Brown, and majority women – were on the front lines, courageously responding to the vast majority of 911 calls and saving countless New Yorkers’ lives.

“Despite their life-saving work on behalf of our city, EMS workers are paid at disgracefully low levels, especially when compared to their fellow emergency responders in uniform. Right now, the starting salary for EMS workers is $35,000—or just above the minimum wage at $16 per hour. Comparatively, FDNY firefighters start at a salary of $45,000. EMS workers who log well over 80 hours per week struggle to make ends meet, with some living in shelters or their cars because they are unable to afford housing. This is unconscionable and we must do better.

“In order to truly honor the immense sacrifices of EMS workers, the City must finally do right by them—pay EMS workers a good living wage equal to that of uniformed first responders. We need pay parity and we need it now.”

MALONEY & RICHARDS CO-ENDORSE FOR RE-ELECTION: Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney and Queens Borough President Donovan Richards co-endorsed each other for re-election with a commitment to working together to secure funding to complete the bike and pedestrian lane expansion on the 59th Street Bridge, maintain the Astoria-East 90th Street Ferry Route, expand the NYCHA Skilled Trades Pilot Program, and to add 3-K sites in Western Queens.

“I have had the honor of working with Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and seeing his unrelenting dedication to the great Borough of Queens, and I am proud to endorse him for his re-election,” said Congresswoman Maloney. “Donovan was elected to office in the middle of a crisis, and from day one he served the people of Queens with dignity and compassion. This past year has been one of the most challenging our city has ever faced, and our rebuilding from the COVID-19 crisis will be no easier. We need leaders like Donovan in office, and I need him as a trusted partner in the City while I am in Congress.”

“Carolyn Maloney has been a steadfast and effective leader in government. I’m honored to have her support and to continue to support her as our Congresswoman,” said Borough President Richards. “Time and again, Congresswoman Maloney has led on issues important to New Yorkers. She sponsored the Zadroga Act to get compensation and healthcare to 9/11 first responders and she’s secured hundreds of millions of dollars for infrastructure in Queens, including the new Kosciuszko Bridge. I look forward to partnering with her to expand ferry access, improve our NYCHA apartment complexes, and bring expanded 3K to Queens.”

WEPRIN & ADAM-OVIDE CROSS-ENDORSE: Community Board 8 District Manager and City Council candidate Marie Adam-Ovide was endorsed by Assemblymember David Weprin, candidate for New York City Comptroller. Adam-Ovide, who worked for Weprin while he was in the New York City Council, also wholeheartedly backed him in his citywide race. Supporters of both Weprin and Adam-Ovide gathered outside of her campaign office on Hollis Avenue.

“I have known Marie for many years,” said Assemblymember Weprin. “She was my first City Council staff member and has served dutifully as District Manager for Community Board 8 for the past 14 years. In that time she has shown herself to be a capable leader, adept at working across city agencies and delivering for constituents. I have seen firsthand her commitment and hard work for her community and the residents of both Northeast and Southeast Queens. It is that same dedication she will bring to City Hall. Marie is the right choice on the key issues, including education and youth development, small business support and healthcare. She is willing and able to hit the ground running from day one.”

“It is an honor to receive the endorsement of David Weprin,” said Adam-Ovide. “Having worked for David during his time as a City Councilmen and chairman of the finance committee I have learned how to be an effective representative. I will bring that knowledge and experience to my office as councilperson. I know David will make an exceptional comptroller. His vision for our schools, support of our small business, and commitment to helping the immigrant population in our city shows his thorough understanding of what our city needs. And so it is a pleasure for me to endorse him for city comptroller. David and I both have devoted ourselves to making New York City a better place to live, work and raise a family. Together, we will continue this fight on behalf of all New Yorkers.”

Marie Adam-Ovide immigrated to the United States from Haiti as a teenager in 1986 and graduated from Tilden High School in Brooklyn. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science at the City College of New York. Marie and her family moved to Queens in 1995. She and her husband Robinson are proud parents of three, all of whom have attended NYC public schools, and they reside in the Laurelton/Rosedale community. Community connection and support has always been a part of Adam-Ovide’s life both as a foster parent, community organizer, community service participant, and PTA student advocate. She began her life in public service with a focus on civic education for new immigrants and followed this passion throughout her career.

Adam-Ovide has received acknowledgements from Congresswoman Grace Meng, Borough Presidents Helen Marshall and Melinda Katz, Senator Leroy Comrie and the Queens Empowerment Center for Haitian Immigrants for her work and service to the community. She is an experienced public servant having worked for 6 1/2 years in the office of two New York City Council Members and has been serving for 13 years as the district manager of a Queens Community Board. According to her campaign, “Marie is the most knowledgeable candidate when it comes to the delivery of New York City services. As a district manager, Marie has worked with every city agency to solve the problems of the residents of that community board and has successfully remedied these problems.”

YOUNG ENDORSED BY COUNCIL MEMBER: City Council (20th District) candidate Ellen Young received the endorsement of long-time friend and experienced legislator, Council Member Alan Maisel, who has been a member of the City Council for 8 years. Before that, he served with Ellen in the NYS Assembly for 8 years where he witnessed her ability and dedication to fighting for seniors, immigrants, and working- and middle-class Queens families.

Maisel’s endorsement follows the endorsements of other experienced legislators Assembly Member Ron Kim, State Senator John Liu, and Council Member Margaret Chin, “cementing Ellen Young’s position as the most experienced and only candidate in the race ready to get to work on day one,” according to her campaign.

Council Member Maisel said, “Having served in the state Assembly and the City Council for almost two decades myself, I know what it takes to do the job and I know that Ellen has the knowledge and the skill set to deliver for the constituents in her district. I know that when Ellen gets to City Hall, she will use her experience to fight for working- and middle-class families, improve our schools, create good paying jobs, and keep our streets safe. Her decades of service have brought her wisdom that no other candidate in this race can match.”

Ellen Young said, “As an 8-year veteran of City Hall, Council Member Maisel knows the ins and outs of City government and having his support will be invaluable as I fight to bring resources to my community and serve the working- and middle-class families of District 20. I am so honored to be receiving his endorsement.”

According to her campaign, “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 Ellen’s plans for the district can be found at www.EllenForNY.com

UFT HOLDS RALLY IN SUPPORT OF UNG: Over 30 members of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) rallied on the steps of JHS 189 to support Sandra Ung for City Council. Dermot Smyth from the United Federation of Teachers said, “Our educators have been through so much over the past year, and they have performed heroically in the face of immense adversity. We need to elect bold leaders who will prioritize our public education system and secure funding for our schools. The UFT is proud to endorse Sandra Ung for City Council. Sandra, who grew up here in the district and went to JHS 189 right behind us, is the best candidate in this election to be our education champion.”

Sandra Ung said, “I am honored to be endorsed by the 200,000 New York City public school teachers represented by the United Federation of Teachers. Schools give our students the chance at a brighter future, and I cannot wait to work with teachers, administrators, parents and students to ensure that every student has the opportunity to have a good, public education. Like so many in my immigrant, working class community, I’m the product of NYC’s public schools. After my family fled the genocide in Cambodia and rebuilt our lives here in Queens, it was our public schools that prepared me to pursue my dreams and go to Columbia law school before entering public service. Thank you so much for your endorsement, and I am proud to stand with you in the fight for our city’s children.”

Sandra Ung is a graduate of PS 22, JHS 189 and Flushing High School, all public schools in the 20th City Council District. She later attended CUNY Hunter and Columbia Law School.

According to her campaign, “Sandra has a bold education platform, including calling for universal early childhood education, fully funding extracurricular programs including sports and arts programs for skill-building, and expanding free afterschool programs like tutoring and homework assistance. Sandra would also work to secure a new school in Flushing to decrease class sizes.”

Ung has also been endorsed by CSA, which represents principals, assistant principals and administrators in New York’s schools.

MET COUNCIL ENDORSES CABÁN: The Metropolitan Council on Housing, or Met Council Action, endorsed Tiffany Cabán, candidate for New York City Council District 22. Met Council Action is a tenants’ rights membership organization made up of New York City tenants. The group serves the one million working class and low-income NYC households who are rent stabilized or regulated, and fights against displacement.

“Met Council Action’s endorsement is a sign of Tiffany’s unwavering support for housing justice,” noted the Cabán campaign, and joins the endorsements of other groups fighting for this issue including CUFFH Action, New York Communities for Change, Citizen Action, and Vocal Action Fund.”

“Tiffany Cabán showed her commitment to housing justice in her earlier run for Queens DA, and we are excited to endorse her for City Council,” said Met Council Action. “She is a champion of the homes guarantee and is committed to using a racial justice lens in the many land-use decisions that come before City Council.”

“I’m so proud to receive the endorsement of the Met Council Action in our fight for District 22,” said Tiffany Cabán. “I’m running for City Council to build the safest and healthiest communities possible. Guaranteeing affordable housing is at the foundation of that vision, and Met Council Action is doing the work everyday across New York City, standing with working class tenants and fighting for their rights. I’m grateful to have them join our coalition and stand with us in our fight for District 22.”

YOUNG UNVEILS EDUCATION PLAN WITH SEN. LIU: City Council candidate Ellen Young was joined recently by NYS Senator John Liu as she rolled out her education plan she would implement if elected to the 20th Council District.

According to her campaign, “As a working-class single mother, the importance of a quality education is deeply personal to Ellen. New York’s public education system enabled Ellen to raise a daughter and proudly watch her graduate from one of New York’s excellent public universities. One of Ellen’s proudest achievements is founding the Golden Age Academy and Eagle Learning Center, schools for senior citizens and new immigrants.”

As Chairman of the NYS Senate’s Standing Committee on NYC Education and a member of the committees on Education and Higher Education, Sen. John Liu has made the fight to increase the quality of New York’s public education and expand access to higher education a core component of his tenure in office.

Young and Senator Liu’s relationship goes back decades to when she served in his office while he was the Council Member for the district she is now running to represent. Over the years, Ellen Young and Senator Liu have worked together closely on education policy and to bring much needed resources to the schools, non-profits, and youth programs in the community they have spent their lives serving.

Senator Liu said, “I have worked closely with Ellen for years and witnessed first-hand her tireless dedication to improving our city’s education policy. I know that as an experienced former State legislator and as the mother of a public-school graduate that education accessibility is personal to her, and that she will be an excellent Council Member and champion for these issues.”

20th District City Council candidate Ellen Young said, “We know that education is the silver bullet. A quality K-12 education and access to higher education breaks barriers and unlocks doors in a way that no other single policy priority can. We are not doing nearly enough to make accessible what should be a basic right for every child in New York City. When I am elected Council Member, I will spend every single day fighting hand in hand with other champions like Senator Liu to ensure our schools, libraries, and special education programs are fully funded. This issue will be a priority for me on Day One.”

Her plan to expand access to and increase the quality of NYC schools when she is elected includes:

  • Ensuring our classrooms are fully funded and have the technological resources they need to educate the children.
  • Reducing classroom size and lower the student-to-teacher ratio.
  • Expanding the Gifted and Talented program so more students are given the opportunity to realize their academic potential.
  • Retaining the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) and increase preparatory resources so students can remain competitive.
  • Securing resources for Queens’ three Specialized High Schools so they are on par with the city’s best.
  • Incentivizing applications to Specialized High Schools within an applicant’s borough of residence.

Young’s campaign stated, “As the first Asian woman elected to the NYS Legislature, Young 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 Ellen’s plans for the district can be found at www.EllenForNY.com.”

ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE ENDORSES CABÁN: Tiffany Cabán, a 33-year-old organizer, activist, former public defender, queer Latina, and candidate for New York City Council District 22 has received the endorsement of every environmental justice organization endorsing in the race for District 22, including Sunrise NYC, TreeAge, New York League of Conservation Voters, and Resilience PAC. These endorsements highlight how the environmental justice movement has coalesced around Cabán’s campaign, endorsing both her candidacy and her comprehensive climate plan, “A Green New Deal For NYC.”

“I am so proud to have built this coalition of community groups working to center environmental justice and pass a Green New Deal for New York City,” said Tiffany Cabán. “Here in District 22, we are up against environmental threats including flooding, and pollution from peaker plants. Climate justice is racial justice, and we must center the voices of the most impacted communities in our solutions. The only way to do this work is through co-governance and a participatory process, and I look forward to doing this work with our climate coalition. Together we can model the possibilities for combating the climate crisis and creating good green union jobs here in District 22, and across New York City.”

These endorsements contribute to Tiffany’s growing coalition of local elected officials, activists, labor groups, and progressive, grassroots community organizations. YANG, KIM MEET WITH HOME CARE WORKERS: On May 22, mayoral candidate Andrew Yang participated in a town hall discussion in Flushing with home care workers, advocates, and Assembly Member Ron Kim before releasing his platform to deliver justice for home care workers and the growing care provider workforce.

Said Andrew Yang, “Home care workers have been underpaid and overworked for too long, and have been treated as less than human in our economy. I am proud to work alongside Assembly Member Ron Kim to champion changes like putting an end to 24-hour shifts, raising wages for home health aides, and ensuring domestic workers are fully protected by our human rights laws. We need to send the message that home care workers, primarily women of color, cannot be treated this way any longer – it is inhuman and unsustainable, and will change when I’m mayor.”

As mayor, Andrew Yang vows to advocate for state and city legislation that will:

  • End the mandatory 24-hour workday for home health aides and instead make it clear that home health aides work two 12-hour split shifts where home care workers are fully compensated for each hour worked;
  • Expand the City’s Human Rights Law to include protections for domestic workers;
  • Raise wages for home care workers.

You can read Yang’s Justice for Home Care Workers and the Growing Workforce of Care Providers policy at yangforny.us7.list-manage.com/track/click?u=fc3fa5461264b980b31b5b614&id=fe98433dda&e=872ce4b391. Below is an outline:

  • Support A.3145-A, Ending Mandatory 24-Hour Workday for Home Health Aides
  • Raise Wages for Home Care Workers
  • Enforce New York’s Domestic Workers Bill of Rights
  • Create a Statewide Domestic and Caregivers Labor Standards Board
  • Pass Int 339-A, Expanding New York City’s Human Rights Law to Include Protections for Domestic Workers
  • Create a Portable Benefits Fund for Workers

To see the video, go to yangforny.us7.list-manage.com/track/click?u=fc3fa5461264b980b31b5b614&id=4257068281&e=872ce4b391

LIU ENDORSES YANG: New York State Senator John Liu of Queens endorsed Andrew Yang for Mayor of New York City. If elected, Andrew Yang would be the first Asian American mayor in New York City’s history.

Said Senator Liu, “Never before in New York’s history have we needed a mayor who not only has the vision to see how badly our City needs transformative change, but the will to see through the historic measures necessary to bring us back stronger than ever. We need a mayor with his pulse on what people want, not just what politics play well in the moment. For the Asian American community, Andrew is our Shirley Chisholm – he is our hope, he became our dream. I’m deeply proud to endorse Andrew for mayor of our great City, and I can’t wait to work with him in Albany to deliver for every New Yorker.”

Said Andrew Yang, “John Liu is a trailblazer for the Asian American community and all of New York City – I am going to finish the job that John Liu started and become the first Asian American mayor in the history of New York City. This is a historic chance for us, the people of New York City, to have a government that works for no one but us. Fresh starts scare the people who are capitalizing off the current system, but fresh starts excite New Yorkers who know that we can do better. We are going to deliver the changes that New Yorkers have been waiting for for years.”

A trailblazer in New York City and State politics, Senator Liu made history as the first Asian American to win a legislative office in New York, as well as becoming the first Asian American to serve as New York City Comptroller and win a seat in New York City Council. Raised in Queens, Senator Liu immigrated from Taiwan at five years old, attending New York public schools and the City University of New York (CUNY) system before working in the private sector for 14 years as a professional actuary, where he drawn upon his real world fiscal expertise to root out waste and mismanagement in government. State Senator Liu’s endorsement is even more meaningful after a recent report revealed the AAPI community is the most underrepresented in American politics. In New York, the representation differential factor is -91.7%, lower than New Jersey and California, among federal, statewide, state legislature, and county offices.

Senator Liu joins Congresswoman Grace Meng, Congressman Ritchie Torres of the Bronx, State Senators Toby Ann Stavisky and Jeremy Cooney, State Assembly Members Ron Kim, Dan Rosenthal, Simcha Eichenstein, Mike Cusick, and Kenny Burgos, City Council Members Margaret Chin, Kalman Yeger Carlos Menchaca, and Vanessa Gibson, and Council candidates Sandra Ung, Richard Lee, Gigi Li, and William Allen in supporting Andrew Yang’s bid for Mayor.

Yang has also been endorsed by Asian groups including the AAPI Victory Fund, the New York City Asian-American Democratic Club, the Fukein American Association, United Fujianese of American, the Chang Le America Association, Inc., Fujian Foundation in USA, Inc, and United Overseas Fujianese Association of America. Read more about Andrew’s Blueprint for NYC here.

—With contributions by Annette Hanze Alberts

This column was originated by John A. Toscano

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