Kim Fires Off Letter Opposing CVS-AETNA Merger

    Assembly Member Ron Kim

    Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Whitestone, Flushing, College Point, Murray Hill ) this week wrote a letter to State Department of Financial Services (DFS) Superintendent Maria Vullo stating he strongly opposes their decision and terms for the approval of CVS Health Corporations’s acquisition of AETNA Inc.

    In recent years, the DFS has been one of the state’s primary forces behind a neoliberal economic agenda that rewards too-big-to-fail mega-corporations while punishing small businesses with burdensome regulations and licensing fees. This trend must be reversed, Kim said.

    Earlier this year, Kim and State Sen. Kevin Parker (D-Brooklyn) introduced  ilegislation (A. 11309) creating a full-time office under the DFS dedicated to economic and financial resiliency. Instead of rewarding companies that extract money and value from our state, the office of financial resiliency will focus on rewarding smaller sized firms that circulate wealth back into our local economies.

    “New York had another golden opportunity to stand up against the expansion of monopolistic mega-corporations, this time in the form of the healthcare behemoth CVS, but again it failed to put the needs of independently-owned small businesses first,” stated Kim. “I am asking Superintendent Maria Vullo to reconsider their decision to approve the CVS-AETNA merger, which will only further expand an already enormous corporation, one that has used its ability to control the supply of pharmacy drugs to favor its own retailers over independently-owned pharmacies. This type of self-dealing should be held accountable as a violation of anti-trust laws, not rewarded.”

    A copy of the Assemblymember’s letter can be viewed here.


    Vallone Announces Relaunch and Expansion of Senior Transportation Program 

    City Council Member Paul Vallone

    City Council Members Paul Vallone (D-Alley Pond Park, Bay Terrace, Bayside, College Point, Douglaston), Peter Koo (D-Bayside, College Point, Flushing, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Fresh Meadows and Whitestone) and Adrienne Adams (D-Jamaica, Richmond Hill, Rochdale Village, South Ozone Park) announced yesterday that Selfhelp Community Services and Four Twos Private Car Service are relaunching and expanding the popular free senior transportation program.

    The program was funded through allocations totaling $130,000 from Vallone and Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan). Vallone allocated $80,000 to serve seniors in his northeast Queens Council District. An additional $50,000 was allocated by the Speaker at the request of the City Council’s Queens Delegation to expand the program to all seniors throughout the Borough of Queens.

    “Seniors in our city, many of who live on fixed incomes, are already faced with enough hardships such as rising property taxes, costs of living and stagnant funding for critical services. The last thing they should have to worry about is how they’re going to get to the doctor,” said Vallone. “This program has proven to provide our seniors with an alternative transportation option they need and deserve. When I first launched it, I hoped that it would grow and expand beyond just Northeast Queens, and now that has become a reality. I thank my colleagues in the Queens Delegation for granting this program the opportunity to expand to all of Queens and I look forward to working with them to continue funding it in the future.”

    City Council Member Peter Koo

    City Council Member Adrienne Adams

    “We must never take for granted how complicated it can be for senior citizens to get around the city. Simple trips to the doctor can become day-long excursions requiring precise planning and hours of waiting,” said Koo. “Expanding the Free Transportation Program throughout Queens is a simple transportation improvement that will go a long way toward improving the quality of life of our seniors.”

    “The mobility of our seniors and their ability to get to medical appointments is essential,” said Adams. “We are very excited to announce the relaunch of the Free Transportation Program for seniors in Queens. Many thanks to my Colleague, Council Member Paul Vallone and to Selfhelp Community Services for their tireless support of our Queens seniors.”

    The program will officially restart on December 10 and will be focused on providing transportation for seniors to attend medical appointments. 

    Prior to receiving a ride, an application will need to be completed that includes basic demographic information and an emergency contact for anyone using the service. Seniors will call the Clearview Senior Center at 718-224-7888 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 12 noon to schedule their rides for the next day. When scheduling the ride they will provide their name, address, phone number, time of pick up and their destination.  The senior will then call for their return trip.


    Koo To Host Building Bridges For Small Businesses

    City Council Member Peter Koo

    Council Member Peter Koo (D) today will join with representatives from the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH) and the Queens Chamber of Commerce to announce an upcoming event to help teach small businesses how to respond to summonses and notices from city agencies.

    Entitled ‘Building Bridges for Small Businesses,’ the event will feature Fidel F. Del Valle, Commissioner and Chief Administrative Law Judge.

    The event comes as the city has ramped up giving small businesses fines for improper awnings and other violations.

    The announcement is slated for 12 noon, today, Dec. 5 at Koo’s district office, 135-27 38th Avenue, Suite 388 in Flushing.


    Addabbo: Think Long & Hard Before Giving Pets as Holiday Gifts

    Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr.

    State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth and parts of South Ozone Park, Ridgewood, Woodside, The Rockaways) is urging holiday gift givers to think long and hard before presenting family members or friends with animals as presents.

    “We’ve all seen plenty of heartwarming commercials where a fluffy kitten or playful puppy is a highlight of the holiday gift-giving season,” said Addabbo.  “But pets of any kind – whether cats, dogs, birds, iguanas, snakes, or any other kind of companion animal – are a true responsibility.  Before giving an animal as a gift, it’s vital to find out whether the recipient actually wants a pet and has adequate resources to provide it with proper care.”

    Addabbo stressed that owning a pet is a long-term commitment, and that giving an unexpected or unwanted animal for a present can lead to great heartbreak for both the recipient and the animal itself. To prevent such unhappy circumstances, Addabbo suggests:

    — When considering whether to buy a pet for someone, first make certain the person actually wants one. If you are not confident that someone wants a pet as a gift, the best thing to do is ask. Find out what type of pet they would like and what type of pet they can handle.

    — Be sure potential recipients can handle the varied costs and responsibilities associated with a new pet. There will be veterinarian bills, food costs, grooming, walks, the need for accessories and toys, and much more. If the person appears unable to shoulder these costs and responsibilities, or may not have adequate time to dedicate to the animal, it may be best to consider a different gift.

    “In the end, surprising someone with a pet can be a very bad idea,” Addabbo said. “Taking in a pet means taking in a new family member, and it is a commitment that can last for many years. The new pet owner must be ready and able to accept that responsibility.” Depending on the animal and its needs, annual costs may be upwards of $1,000 a year.

    Addabbo pointed out that the ASPCA’s official position on giving pets as gifts states that they should only be given to those who have expressed interest in owning one, and who have the ability to care for it adequately and responsibly.

    “If you do decide to get someone on your list the pet they have always wanted, make sure to get the animals from shelters and responsible breeders,” Addabbo said. “There are many wonderful and reputable animal shelters and rescue organizations right here in Queens where the perfect pet can be adopted, and they are also always in need of volunteers and donations – another great avenue for improving the lives of animals this holiday season.”


    Van Bramer Fundraiser Set

    City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer

    City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside), who is eyeing possibly running for Queens Borough President,  is having a fundraiser next week.

    A great group of friends and neighbors, along with the legendary Agnes Gund are hosting the reception. The group plans to take full advantage of the city’s 6-1 matching funds program, which would give us $6 for every $1 contribution they receive.

    The event is slated for 7 p.m., Dec, 12 at Manducatis Rustica 46-35 Vernon Blvd. in Long Island City. You can get your tickets here. If you have any questions or would like to RSVP, please reach out to Allegra at Allegra@CulverPlace.com

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