Katz, Boro Board Hear Change To Hotel Rezoning

    Queens Borough President Melinda Katz

    Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and The Queens Borough Board today will hear a presentation from the city’s Planning (DCP), which if adopted, would require anyone seeking to open a new hotel within an M1 (Light Manufacturing) zoning district to first obtain a Special Permit from the DCP.

    The zoning text amendment comes as there has been rapid increase in hotels in M1 districts citywide since 2010, particularly in areas near transit.

    As part of the City’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), the Borough Board is scheduled to vote during its June 11, 2018 meeting on whether it will recommend the adoption of the proposed text amendment. T

    he Borough Board was first briefed on the proposal at its meeting on October 16, 2017 as part of DCP’s environmental review process.

    The presentation is slated for 5:30 p.m., today, May 14 at Queens Borough Hall, 20-55 Queens Boulevard in Kew Gardens.


    Avella Calls for an Investigation into Unlicensed Driving Schools

    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) on Friday called on the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to investigate the rampant operation of driving schools by unlicensed individuals.

    Recently, Avella was informed that the DMV did not license many of the driving schools operating in Northeast Queens, but instead the agency gave them a document called an “escort letter.”

    According to this source, the real purpose of the letter is to allow an individual to accompany a student driver to and from the DMV or their driving test appointment.  The DMV branches issuing such letters are doing so in direct contravention of New York State Law, which lays out specific requirements for an individual to receive a license to operate a driving school, including the passing of a DMV administered exam.

    To address this enabling of rampant abuse of the “escort letter” procedure by certain branches of the DMV, Avella has requested that the DMV launch an immediate investigation into the abuse of these letters and ensure that all branches and divisions of the department are abiding by state law.

    “Far too often have the neighborhoods of Northeast Queens been inundated with an excess of student drivers.  To hear now that the DMV has potentially been enabling this excess via a procedure which allows unlicensed and unqualified persons to operate driving schools is troubling,” said Avella.

    “I am calling for an immediate investigation by the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles into this situation. The DMV should be enforcing the state law on the books and ensuring that all student drivers are given proper instruction by teachers who are qualified under the law,” the lawmaker added.


    Lancman Justice System Committee Goes Over DA’s Budget

    City Council Member Rory I Lancman

    City Council Member Rory I. Lancman (D-Briarwood, Cunningham Park, Flushing, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Fresh Meadows, Hollis, Holliswood, Jamaica, Jamaica Estates, Jamaica Hills, Kew Gardens, Kew Gardens Hills, Richmond Hills) today will have the council’s Justice System Committee, which he chairs, go over Mayor Bill de BLasio’s FY 2018 executive Budget.

    The Committee will hear testimony from the City’s District Attorneys, the Special Narcotics Prosecutor, and the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice (MOCJ). The Committee will urge the administration to put forward a budget that allows DAs’ Offices to be fully staffed and in position to implement criminal justice reforms.

    The hearing is slated for 1 p.m., today, May 14 in the city council chambers in City Hall in Lower Manhattan. The hearing is open to the public.


    Gillibrand Legislation Would Require More DHS Transparency

    U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

    U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) on Friday announced new legislation that would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have more accountability and transparency within Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

    The measure dubbed the DHS Accountability and Transparency (DATA) Act, S.2832, would establish a formal record-keeping process of all stops and searches. Currently, there is no required record-keeping process for officers making a patrol stop or inspection, except in cases of arrest or use of force by an officer.

    Border patrol agents have broad authority to question anyone within 100 miles of a U.S. land or coastal border about their immigration status, which covers most of the population of the United States. Border patrol agents routinely question passengers on Amtrak and passenger buses about their immigration status without having to keep a formal record of the majority of these stops. Co-sponsors of the legislation include Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tom Udall (D-NM), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).

    “Keeping our country safe cannot come at a cost to basic human rights. When border patrol agents stop and question people in New York and in many places across the country, they aren’t keeping data about why they targeted a particular person or what happened during their encounter,” said Gillibrand.

    “Congress has a responsibility to make sure our border patrol agencies are transparent and accountable, just like every law enforcement agency in our country should be. I am proud to introduce the Department of Homeland Security Accountability and Transparency Act, which would require that our border patrol agencies start collecting detailed records about every stop they make, so we can ensure that our agents are serving the public as effectively as possible and that no one’s rights are being violated,” she added.


    Dromm Kicks Off LGBT Pride Season at Queens Center Mall

    City Council Member Daniel Dromm

    City Council Member Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst), and the Flushing Town Hall and Queens Center today are pleased to host the second annual celebration of LGBT Pride Season for the whole community to enjoy.

    This event will feature a reception followed with performances by renown R&B vocalist Alfa Anderson, formerly of the band Chic, international contemporary dancer Xiang Xu, and poet Davidson Garrett, a.k.a “King Lear of the Tax.”

    At the celebration, Dromm will recognize Queens Pride Co-chairs Tina Arniotis, Drag Queen Story Hour and LaGuardia and Wagner Archives Director Richard K. Lieberman, all of whom have contributed greatly to the movement to increase the visibility of and achieve equality and justice for the LGBT community.

    This celebration is the first in a series of very special events that kick off a month of pride activities citywide.

    The kickoff starts with a reception at 5:30 p.m., this evening, May 14 at the Queens Center (Mall), 90-15 Queens Boulevard, 2nd Floor – by booth #K203 in Elmhurst.

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