Dromm On City’s FY 2019 Budget Agreement
City Council Member Daniel Dromm (D-East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights), chair of the council’s Finance Committee, yesterday lauded the city’s $89 billion Fiscal Year 2019 budget agreement between Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council.
“New Yorkers spoke, and we listened. Working closely together, the council and the administration have devised a progressive budget that truly delivers for our city. There is much to celebrate in this budget. Among the many major wins are $106 million for Fair Fares that will provide those living at or below the federal poverty line with half-priced MetroCards; $150 million to make New York City public schools more accessible to people living with disabilities; and $125 million in Fair Student Funding which will allow principals to determine what area in their school needs additional support,” said Dromm.
“The council and the administration have also succeeded in bolstering NYC’s reserves by $225 million. This strengthens the City’s ability to weather any downturn that may arise in the future without having to make painful cuts or increase taxes. Together we have produced a budget that will move our city forward, and for that I am grateful,” he added.
Vallone, DiNapoli Rally To Support Improving School Safety
City Council Member Paul Vallone (D-Alley Pond Park, Bay Terrace, Bayside, College Point, Douglaston, East Elmhurst, Flushing, Fresh Meadows, Little Neck, Whitestone) and State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli joined parents, teachers and students in a rally to support improving school safety throughout the city.
School safety continues to be a major issue in the national spotlight and changes need to be made to ensure that students can learn and grow in the safest environment possible.
The rally called for the passage of Vallone’s legislative package to create a School Safety Task Force that will take a top to bottom look at the current state of school safety in the city and require NYPD and Department of Education recommendations for changes.
His bill was introduced as part of an eleven bill legislative package which outlines the responsibilities and scope of the recommendations that the task force will make. They will require reviews of our current evacuation plans and crisis response protocols, update infrastructure technologies including security camera systems, develop collaborative preparedness procedures for the community and city agencies at public and nonpublic schools, increase public notification for school emergencies and train school personnel to better handle any crisis.
As budget negotiations with the Administration come to a conclusion, Vallone once again called for increased funding in the city budget to install new (IPDVS) internet protocol digital video surveillance systems in schools. Out of over 1,700 schools in NYC, only 1,123 have IPDVS, leaving a third of schools without this vital necessity.
In Vallone’s district, the problem is worse with 62% of schools lacking this modern security system. The current DOE five-year capital plan for FY15-19 allocated $100 million allocated for IPDVS but it focused on upgrading existing IPDVS in schools rather than installing new ones. Vallone called for an additional $100 million in the city council’s response to the preliminary budget, but was not included in the Administration’s Executive Budget.
“Today, we gather for our children and their safety in our schools. The complete failure on the federal level to do anything and increased tragic events that have unfolded in our country has brought us together to be proactive and not reactive,” said Vallone.
“We are surrounded and supported today by parents, students, principals, teachers and elected officials who want to be heard and stand with our children. I’m proud to have Speaker Corey Johnson support and cosponsor this legislation as we continue to lead the charge for school safety. We will keep the fight going until every student and school has the tools they need to keep them safe,” the lawmaker added.
Katz, Boro Board Hear About FloodHelpNY Program
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz (D) and the Queens Borough Cabinet today will hear a presentation from the Center for NYC Neighborhoods on the FloodHelpNY program.
The program is an initiative to inform New York City homeowners about how they can protect their homes and their finances from flooding. The Cabinet will also hear a presentation from the New York City Department of Buildings about its process for securing a permit for a curb cut.
Through its website at www.floodhelpny.org, the state-funded FloodHelpNY program enables homeowners to assess their home’s resistance to flooding and find ways to increase their protection against floods. The website also provides estimates as to what homeowners can expect to pay for flood insurance.
The presentation is slated for 9:30 a.m., today June 12 at Queens Borough Hall, 120-55 Queens Boulevard in Kew Gardens.
Avella, Whitestone Residents Celebrate DEP Construction
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-College Point, Whitestone, Batside, Flushing, Jamaica Estates, Fresh Meadows, Bellerose, Floral Park, Jamaica, Douglaston, Little Neck, Auburndale, Kissena Park, Briarwood) stood with homeowners at 147th Street and 2nd Avenue last Friday to celebrate the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) performing construction to remedy longstanding water pressure issues.
Avella first became involved in this issue when residents contacted him back in 2013 about flooding on their block that needed to be addressed. While the flooding issue was resolved by resurfacing the street, the outstanding issue of water pressure issues lingered.
Residents previously had their water delivered to their homes through a two-inch water line. When multiple homes were using their water, pressure would diminish or even disappear, creating quality of life issues for residents.
After multiple on-site meetings and letters to DEP, Avella finally convinced DEP to replace the water line so the homes would no longer experience pressure issues.
“I am happy that I was finally able to achieve a resolution for these residents,” said Avella. “Imagine how frustrating it is to be living with water pressure issues on a daily basis. I applaud DEP for doing the right thing and fixing this issue once and for all.”
Addabbo Bill To Create Responsible Gaming Task Force
State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth, parts of South Ozone Park, Ridgewood, Woodside, The Rockaways) last week saw the state senate approve his bii (S.3067) that would create an 11-member Task Force on Responsible Gaming within the New York State Gaming Commission.
The measure comes as a number of new casinos are operating around the state, and the possibility of legalized sports betting on the horizon.
“When New Yorkers voted in 2013 to permit non-tribal casino gambling in the state, it allowed for the construction of up to seven new gaming facilities,” said Addabbo, who serves as the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering. “Many of these are now in operation, and New York is also considering proposals to legalize sports betting in the state. While we hope the expansion of wagering activities will ultimately provide an economic boost for the state and areas hosting casinos, we also need to recognize and address the potential for a serious increase in problem gambling in New York. My legislation would create a framework to confront this issue.”
The Task Force members, who would serve without compensation, would need to have expertise in problem gambling treatment and prevention, as well as insights into problem gambling programs administered by gaming facilities. The group would make recommendations to the legislature and governor regarding the best strategies to address gaming disorders among New York residents.
“New York’s Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services has estimated that one million state residents have a gambling problem, including five percent of adults over the age of 18,” said Addabbo. “In addition, the 2013 National Survey of Problem Gambling Services found that, in 2012, New York ranked second in the nation in combined lottery sales, commercial casino gaming revenues, and Indian gaming revenues. With more facilities for gambling now in the mix, we need to realize that greater wagering opportunities may lead to an upsurge in problem gambling, which can ruin lives in any number of ways.”
Addabbo pointed out that there are a number of organizations available to help people with gambling disorders, including The Queens Center for Excellence, which is affiliated with the New York State Council on Problem Gambling. The website for the group is www.queenscfe.org, and information about services is available by calling 1-347-551-2913.
Katz Endorses Espinal For Assembly Seat
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz yesterday endorsed Assemblywoman Ari Espinal (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, Corona) in her three-way run in the upcoming Sept. 13 Democratic primary.
“Assemblywoman Ari Espinal is the leader Central Queens needs in Albany. She has the experience and commitment to make real change and fight for our community. From fighting for abuse victims, to advocating for our immigrants, Assemblywoman Espinal is the voice we need in the Assembly,” said Katz.
“I am honored to have the endorsement of Borough President Katz. Throughout her time in office, she has fought for our students, seniors, immigrants, and families. I am eager to continue working with Borough President Katz to keep addressing issues that matter most to Queens families,”said Espinal.
A lifelong resident of the district, Espinal was elected to the Assembly in the April 24 Special Election. She has served as a Democratic district leader for four years. Espinal served for seven years on City Councilmember Francisco Moya‘s staff while he served in the Assembly.
Also in the race is Catalina Cruz and Yonel Leteiller Sosa.