Koo Introduces Bill Outlawing Smoking On Sidewalks

    City Council Member Peter Koo

    City Council Member Peter Koo (D-Bayside, College Point, Flushing, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Fresh Meadows, Whitestone) yesterday announced legislation to ban smoking while walking on city sidewalks.

    The bill will prohibit smoking while walking on all sidewalks under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation and the Department of Parks and Recreation, including sidewalks adjoining parks, squares and public places, pedestrian pathways through any park strip, median or mall adjacent to traffic, and parking lots.

    “In a perfect world, every smoker would have the self-awareness to realize that smoking and walking down a crowded sidewalk subjects everyone behind you to breathing in the fumes. Unfortunately, we’ve all had the experience of getting stuck behind a smoker while walking down a crowded city sidewalk,” said Koo.

    “If you want to smoke, stand off to the side. People can easily walk past you. But if you’re smoking and walking down the sidewalk, you’re forcing the people behind you to breathe it in. I’ve seen too many mothers with strollers, and parents holding hands with their children, walking behind smokers who are blowing clouds of smoke behind them. We live in a city of over 8 million people, and we all share the same sidewalks. One person’s actions impacts everyone around them,” the lawmaker added.

    Koo will formally introduce the bill at today’s stated City Council meeting. If passed, the measure would take effect 120 days after being signed into law.


    Avella Responds to Call for Ban on ‘Unsafe Harness Systems’ in Helicopters

    Sen. Tony Avella

    State Sen. Tony Avella (D-College Point, Whitestone, Bayside, Flushing, Jamaica Estates, Fresh Meadows, Bellerose, Floral Park, Jamaica, Douglaston, Little Neck, Auburndale, Kissena Park, Briarwood) yesterday said that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) call to ban unsafe harness systems in commercial helicopters serves as further evidence that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) should have oversight over helicopter operations in their jurisdiction is imperative.

    The call came after the deadly helicopter crash into the East River last week, which killed five passengers, after they couldn’t free themselves from their harnesses and drowned when the helicopter rolled over into the water. The pilot, who was not wearing a harness, escaped with only minor injuries.

    “When you really look at the specifics of this case you begin to realize that no one is watching the store when it comes to helicopter operations. These harnesses were never evaluated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). It’s like the Wild West when we are talking about helicopter operations in New York City,” said Avella.

    “I appreciate the FAA’s efforts in suspending these types of “doors off” flights; but as the NTSB noted they fail to provide any sort of specifics as to who will monitor and enforce this action. No one has taken any authority or jurisdiction over the helicopters,” he added.

    Avella recently introduced legislation (S6875) to direct PANYNJ to acquire control over the operation of helicopters.


    Van Bramer Shows Pride in Being Both Irish & Gay

    City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer

    City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Astoria, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Long Island City, Maspeth, Sunnyside, Woodside) yesterday expressed pride in both his Irish-American roots and in being gay in The Irish Voice, which published a profile of him in their St. Patrick’s Day edition.

    “One of their reporters, Cahir O’Doherty, recently heard me deliver remarks at the opening of the LGBT Center in Queens. At that event, I shared that as a teenager, I was afraid to live as my authentic self, felt like I couldn’t be gay and wanted to disappear. Cahir became interested in telling my story; the evolution of a closeted teenager to an openly gay elected official. Or, as the title of the profile says, “NYC Deputy Leader Jimmy Van Bramer used to worry what you thought of him, that’s over”.

    “I am proud of my story and happy that I had the opportunity to tell it in this in-depth and thoughtful piece. I hope you read it and share it. May it reach someone in a dark place and give them hope that life gets better.”

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