Van Bramer’s Opening Statement From Amazon HQ2 Finance Hearing 

    City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer

    City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside, Woodside, Long Island City, Astoria, Dutch Kills) took both Mayor Bill de Blasio and the nation’s largest online retailer, Amazon, to task at the first city council hearing regarding Amazon’s proposed HQ2 move to Long Island City.

    “At a time when we should all be concerned with income inequality, we are confronted by a deal that literally takes billions in hard earned tax dollars paid by janitors, teachers and bus drivers only to give it to a man worth $160 billion. And yet we often hear there isn’t enough money for mass transit, schools, libraries and parks,” Van Bramer said in his opening statement.

    “Now quite recently in a speech Mayor de Blasio spoke about this very dilemma. He said: ‘We actually do have the money to solve the problems, and I know where the money is. This country has spent decades taking from working people and concentrating the wealth in the hands of the 1 percent. That’s where the money is.’ He added, ‘There’s plenty of money in this country — it’s just in the wrong hands.’

    “Which brings us to the Amazon deal, an over $3 billion corporate giveaway of taxpayer dollars to make the richest of the rich, even more rich. The Mayor and the Governor signed off on this deal. I will not. The City Council has not.

    “The question I have been asking myself is how much is too much? In a world where so many are hungry at night, cold all day, and unable to afford a doctor when they inevitably get sick, how can so much wealth be concentrated in one person’s hands. And how does the City and State celebrate a deal that exacerbates income inequality?

    “We often hear that it’s too much or we are going too far when it comes to giving poor or working class people more and better health care. It would be too much of a burden for all workers to be unionized. But we never hear those same people say that Jeff Bezos and people worth tens of billions of dollars have too much damn money.

    “This Amazon debacle must be an inflection point for our society. Where we reign in corporate welfare and the billionaire class and give more power to the people who have the least in our world.

    “We need to delve further into this deal and these subsidies and programs. We need to know why Amazon is opposed to allowing Amazon workers to join a union.

    “Amazon is apparently spending millions on these flyers. My advice to you, on behalf of my constituents, is to stop sending them. They are not working. Opposition is only growing. 2:1 my constituents have called telling me to keep fighting this deal. So that is what I will do. You may have millions of dollars to waste on these flyers, but the hardworking people of New York do not. Stop sending them! Save some trees! And stop the BS.

    “The Mayor can spread the gospel of progressive values across the country but I believe it is this record breaking act of corporate welfare that will define his Mayoralty.”


    DenDekker, Nolan, Grodenchik Applaud Announcement Of Improved Graduation Rates

    Assemblyman Michael DenDekker

    Assembly Members Michael DenDekker (D-Woodside, Jackson Heights, East Elmhurst) and Catherine Nolan (D-Sunnyside, Ridgewood, Astoria, Woodside, Long Island City, Maspeth, Queensbridge, Ravenswood, Dutch Kills and Blissville), and City Council Member Barry S. Grodenchik (D-Bayside Hills, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Hollis Hills, Holliswood, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, Oakland Gardens, Queens Village) yesterday appluded Mayor Bill de Blasio’s announcement that the city’s 2018 four-year high school graduation rate has reached a record high of 75.9 percent.

    The dropout rate has fallen to a record low of 7.5 percent. The graduation rate rose in every borough and among every ethnicity.

    “I am pleased to learn that New York City students set a record high in graduation rates and a record low in dropout rates. Students, teachers, and families deserve great credit for these achievements. While graduation rates for Black and Latinx students lag behind city averages, a lot of progress has been made and I am hopeful that we will continue to make improvements in the future,” said DenDekker.

    “Better graduation rates mean more young New Yorkers who can take their rightful place as informed citizens, with economically successful families and aware, sustainable communities.  Having served many challenging years as Chair of the NYS Assembly Education Committee as well as being a parent of a recent NYC high school graduate I feel a great sense of pride and hope in our young adults who have accomplished do much.  Congratulations to all!” said Nolan.

    “Increasing graduation rates indicate significant citywide progress in our public schools,” said Grodenchik.  “High school degrees put young people on the path toward higher education, which so often unlocks the door to a brighter future.”


    Jeffries To Deliver Annual State Of The District Address

    U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries

    U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-South Ozone Park, Howard Beach, Brooklyn) tonight will deliver his annual State of the District Address.

    Jeffries will discuss the progress made in the community over the last year, including the passage of historic criminal justice reform. He will also discuss the Democratic agenda for America, which includes lowering healthcare costs, fighting for more affordable housing and investing in the nation’s infrastructure.

    Jeffries sits on the Judiciary and Budget Committees. He is also the House Democratic Caucus Chair.

    The speech is slated for 6:30 p.m., tonight, Jan. 31 at Brooklyn Technical High School, 29 Fort Greene Place in Fort Greene.


    Vallone, Johnson Meet With Korean-American Community

    City Council Member Paul Vallone

    City Council Member Vallone (D-Alley Pond Park, Bay Terrace, Bayside, College Point, Douglaston, East Elmhurst, Flushing, Fresh Meadows, Little Neck, Whitestone) and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan) today will host a round table discussion with the Korean-American community.

    The meeting will focus on small business and non-profit organization related issues and include civic, non-profit and business leaders.

    Representatives from multiple Korean-American organizations will be at the round table including Minsun Kim (Korean American Association of Greater NY, Thomas Kim (Korean American Association of Queens), Paul Yoo, (Korean American Chamber of Commerce), Dr. Samuel Cho (Korean American Physicians Association of NY), Dr. Youngseh Bae (Community Inclusion & Development Alliance), Linda Lee (Korean Community Services), Youngjin Kim (Korean American Business Council of NY), Christine Colligan (Korean American Parents Association of Greater NY) and Susan Kim (Korean Advocacy Council.

    The meeting is slated for 3:30 p.m., today, Jan. 31 at Korean Community Services, 203-05 32nd Avenue in Bayside.

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