Vallone Proposes Creation of an Office of Interagency Tourism Affairs

    City Council Member Paul Vallone

    City Council Member Paul A. Vallone (D-Alley Pond Park, Bay Terrace, Bayside, College Point, Douglaston, East Elmhurst, Flushing, Fresh Meadows, Little Neck, Whitestone), as chair of the Economic Development Committee, is floating a bill to create an Office of Interagency Tourism Affairs.

    The office would be responsible for establishing a system to receive public comments and questions regarding tourism, relay comments and questions to the respective city agencies, and coordinate communications between agencies and aid in the resolution of interagency matters, including transportation, quality of life and other safety-related matters.

    The Office would be led by an appointed director and be charged with submitting a quarterly data report on the number of queries or comments received and response time and efforts, as well as a five-year plan for growth and sustainability of the tourism industry in the City of New York. If passed, the bill would take effect in 120 days. 

    Currently, NYC & Company functions as the city’s tourism bureau and handles marketing to maximize opportunities for travel and tourism in New York City, build economic prosperity and spread the dynamic image of NYC around the world. Both NYC & Company President and CEO Fred Dixon and NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC) representative Sabrina Lippman said in testimony that their respective organizations support the intent of the bill. 

    “From a hot restaurant on Astoria Boulevard to the Brooklyn Museum, to Aladdin on Broadway in Times Square, our local business owners and entertainment centers should have a dedicated place to turn to when faced with day-to-day city issues like reporting a lingering construction project or navigating the city’s permitting process,” said Vallone. 

    “While NYC & Company continues to do great work promoting New York City from a large-scale advertising and marketing perspective, an Office of Interagency Tourism Affairs would provide focused coordination between city agencies and the business, arts and entertainment hubs that will contribute to continued success in our city’s tourism sector, as well as sustained quality of life for our New Yorkers,” he added.


    Simotas Demands Answers On Why Muslim Families Prohibited From NYC Ferries

    Assembly Member Aravella Simotas

    Assembly Member Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria, Long Island City) along with Brooklyn lawmakers City Councilmember Justin Brannan and State Sen. Andrew Gounardes yesterday fired off a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio demanding an explanation for media reports of discriminatory acts against three Muslim families headed to Brooklyn Pier 6.

    According to the media reports, the families were denied entry onto the ferry due to an alleged “security issue.”

    Simotas, Brannan and Gounardes are now urging the Mayor to explain the humiliating treatment the families endured from crew members and to provide a list of remedial steps to be taken by the ferry operator to avoid this incident from ever happening again. The legislators strongly feel that New York City is responsible for the documented yet unmitigated discriminatory acts of its third-party contractors.

    “We cannot allow discrimination to permeate our city. We must combat islamophobia, xenophobia, racism and all types of discrimination at its core. What happened to these Muslim families must never happen again. Remedial steps must be taken in order to avoid similar incidents from occurring in the future as it is crucial to uphold New York’s City’s principles of solidarity, equality and opportunity for all,” said Simotas.


    Cuomo Appoints Commission To Oversee Creation Of Mother Cabrini Statue

    Gov. Andrew Cuomo

    Governor Andrew M. Cuomo this week appointed 19 members to a new commission that will oversee the creation of a statue honoring Mother Cabrini. 

    The members will include Angelo Vivolo of the Columbus Heritage Coalition and Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of the Brooklyn Diocese. The Governor announced the state will commit up to $750,000 for the project and issued requests for proposals for the design of the new statue.

    “Mother Cabrini was a great New Yorker and a great Italian-American immigrant who did untold good for the people of this state, and there is no doubt she is deserving of a statue in her honor,” Cuomo said. “With the help of this new commission, we are going to get this done to help ensure Mother Cabrini’s legacy of service to her community and those who are less fortunate is remembered for generations to come.”

    Mother Cabrini was an Italian-American who founded many organizations to help the needy. She was the youngest of 13 children, born in Lombardy in 1850, and before migrating to the United States, she took vows and founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, an order that served and schooled orphans.


    Gillibrand Calls For Repeal Of 2002 Authorization For Use Of Military Force

    U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

    U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), both members of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), yesterday announced their call on Senate leadership to repeal the outdated 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). 

    The 2002 AUMF was originally drafted to authorize military operations against Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq, but it has since been used to expand U.S. military presence in the region.

    In a letter to SASC Chairman James M. Inhofe (R-OK) and Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-RI), Gillibrand and Duckworth noted that if left unchallenged, the 2002 AUMF could erode Congress’s ability to check the President’s military power. Repealing the authorization would reflect its original intent — it was never intended to be an unlimited authorization for the use of military force, which could justify military operations without end, against new adversaries, and in additional countries. This would also be an important first step to determining whether additional Congressional authorizations are necessary to protect our nation’s security interests. 

    “Despite clear congressional intent and the plain language of the 2002 AUMF, successive administrations have sought to weaken the Legislative Branch’s Article I power to declare war by claiming that the 2002 AUMF provides authority for counter ISIS operations initiated long after the death of Saddam Hussein, and more recently, as an authorization to address threats to, or stemming from, Iraq,” the Senators wrote. “Expansive interpretations of the 2002 AUMF not only fail to accurately reflect the reality that Congress authorized a war in Iraq that formally concluded in 2011, but if left unchallenged, weaken the Legislative Branch’s ability to check an increasingly aggressive Executive Branch.”


    Maloney Releases “Guns and Suicide” Report 

    U.S. Rep Carolyn Maloney

    U.S. Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn), Vice-Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, this week released a new report, “Guns and Suicide,” that shows easy access to firearms is helping to fuel an epidemic of suicide.

    The report, conducted by Democratic staff of the Joint Economic Committee, finds that having access to a gun triples the risk of death by suicide, which is a growing problem that takes the lives of 129 people every day in America. The report also provides the latest estimate on the economic cost of suicide and attempted suicide. 

    “I asked my staff to look closely at how guns and suicides are connected, and to examine how suicide by firearm varies by race, gender, age, geography, veteran status and other factors,” Maloney said. “The link between the availability of firearms and suicide rates provides yet another strong case for gun safety reforms. We lose too many people, their skills, their contributions, their futures full of possibility and promise to suicide.”

    Click here for a copy of the report.

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