Meng Bill Combating Phone Scam Signed Into Law

    U.S. Rep. Grace Meng

    Congresswoman Grace Meng (D- Bayside, Flushing, Forest Hills, Rego Park, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Glendale, Kew Gardens) announced last week that her legislation to combat a widespread telephone scam that has adversely affected Queens residents has been signed into law.

    On Friday, the legislation was signed into law as part of the omnibus spending bill. The new measure will crack down on criminals who engage in spoofing, a scheme in which criminals disguise their caller ID to make it appear that they’re calling from a financial institution, police department or government agency. The bill would also expand spoofing protections to cover text messaging and internet-based Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services that enable individuals to make calls from computers and tablets.

    Meng’s legislation would also make spoofing attempts from abroad a criminal act. Presently, spoofing to defraud Americans is not against the law if the calls originate from outside the U.S.

    In addition, the legislation would require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in collaboration with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), to regularly update education materials that help consumers identify and protect themselves from caller ID scams.

    “Spoofing has been one of the fastest growing forms of fraud in America, but the enactment of my Anti-Spoofing Act will provide new and critical tools to stop those who perpetrate this deceitful and malicious crime. Finally, we can fight back against these unconscionable thieves who for too long have preyed on unwitting consumers including the most vulnerable in our society such as immigrants and the elderly,” said Meng.
    Avella Demands DEP Get Moving on Bioswales Project

    Sen. Tony Avella

    State Senator Tony Avella (D-Bayside) is demanding that the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) move faster on a project to install bioswales in Northeast Queens.

    Last Friday, Avella called on the DEP to “get their act together” on the project citing recent residential concerns over the project management. After working to get DEP to agree to some concessions on bioswales the Senator has learned that even when DEP has agreed to not install a bioswales in front of someone’s home there have been several situations where they are still painting the green markings on the sidewalk and are even drilling into the ground to test if the area is appropriate for a bioswale.

    Bioswales, or “rain gardens,” are a relatively new initiative on the part of New York City. Their primary goal is to prevent untreated storm water and raw sewage from entering NYC water systems by catching some of the water that often courses down the street during a rainstorm, according to reports. That dirty water can discharge into Newtown Creek, Flushing Bay and Flushing Creek during heavy rainstorms, and serves as a major obstacle in improving water quality in the NYC area.

    “The level of coordination and communication between DEP and the companies they use to do their work is appalling. DEP has granted these homeowners the right to not have an unwanted bioswale in front of their home yet, despite that assurance, they are still subjecting homeowners to the invasive drilling and horrific experience of the bioswales process,” said Avella.

    “I—along with the community—am still calling for a full opt-out from DEP and the Mayor for my district but, at the very least, I would appreciate if DEP could improve their woefully inadequate coordination on this project and to keep their promise to not force homeowners to go through this when they don’t need to,” added Avella.

    Peralta Applauds De Blasio’s Vision Zero Safety Efforts

    State Senator Jose Peralta (D-Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Woodside) applauded Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiatives work in making 2017 the safest year on record for pedestrians.

    On Friday, the de Blasio administration released the City’s Vision Zero Year Four Report, a comprehensive review of the first four years of the groundbreaking safety initiative. The report revealed that last year was the safest year on record, with the fourth straight year of fatality declines.  

    Since the program’s inaugural year in 2014, when New York City became the first American city to adopt Vision Zero, the city’s traffic fatalities have declined 28 percent with a 45 percent decline in pedestrian fatalities — bucking national fatality trends, which have increased 15 percent over the same period.

    “Clearly, Vision Zero is working. Although one traffic-related fatality is one too many, the road safety initiative put in place by Mayor Bill de Blasio four years ago is resulting in positive results. As we work to push additional safety measures, it is time to pass my bill calling to increase the number of speed cameras in school zones and other safety proposals. Reckless drivers don’t belong in our roads,” said Peralta.

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