Gov. Cuomo on Monday signed a bill sponsored by two Queens lawmakers that makes assault of school crossing guards a felony, giving them the same legal protection already afforded to police officers and other uniformed public employees such as railroad and sanitation workers. As of Nov. 1, an attack on a crossing guard will be punishable by up to seven years in prison, as opposed to the one-year maximum for misdemeanor assault against people whose jobs do not bring the extra safeguard.
The bill was authored by state Sen. JosÈ Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) and Assemblyman Michael Den Dekker (D-Jackson Heights) and co-sponsored by several Queens lawmakers.
Saying that crossing guards’ job protecting children is vitally important but often thankless, the law’s justification section says in part, “Worse yet, their very duty, making sure children are not struck and killed by passing motorists, often makes them the subject of physical and verbal threats and even violence.”
Peralta and Den Dekker said they hope the new law will prompt more people to apply for crossing guard jobs. The senator said there are more than 200 vacancies across the city, and the assemblyman’s office noted that two children were killed crossing Northern Boulevard within his district over the last two years in separate incidents, in areas with no crossing guard.
The state’s surplus for fiscal year 2015, which began in April, is now estimated at $6.2 billion, more than three times the amount projected when the budget was enacted, according to new figures from Albany.
Tax revenues are higher than projected, but the increase is mostly due to payments coming in from financial institutions that agreed to settle alleged violations of the law, according to the state Division of Budget, which released its new fiscal analysis last Friday.
The biggest piece of revenue is coming from BNP Paribas, which is paying $3.6 billion for violating state law by doing business with foreign entities subject to U.S. sanctions, the DOB said. Credit Suisse AG has paid $715 million for letting thousands of clients hide assets overseas to avoid paying taxes. Other firms paying the state tens of millions of dollars each are Citigroup, Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. and AXA Equitable Life Insurance Co.
State tax collections are $1.3 billion higher than projected, according to the DOB, while spending of state funds is expected to total $92.2 billion, 1.8 percent more than last year.
That spending does not include the use of federal funds for Hurricane Sandy relief and implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
The United States Tennis Association is dissing its home borough of Queens by giving away free food over three days to promote the US Open tournament — at three spots in Manhattan, the online Gothamist news outlet reports.
In a snarky piece posted Tuesday, Gothamist writer Nell Casey says a US Open food truck will give out lobster rolls, steak tacos and other yummies in that other borough on Aug. 11, 12 and 13. But there won’t be any giveaways in Queens. Casey asks if the USTA thinks those living near Flushing Meadows Corona Park aren’t worth placating with a free treat and says, “We’d be willing to bet the vastly underserved communities that put up with the stadium construction and had [their] commutes interrupted by intoxicated fans wouldn’t mind a visit from the U.S. Open truck.”
The USTA told the Queens Chronicle in response that it is holding the events in Manhattan because the locations it chose there — Bryant, Madison Square and Union Square parks — are high-traffic areas, and that it was easier to get permits than it would be in Queens because the locations are near one another. The sites also make it more likely to get TV coverage, USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier said.
Widmaier added that the USTA is doing a “trophy tour” in Queens Friday, and will host free entertainment for residents at its first-ever “Queens Day” here on Aug. 20.