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Queens Chronicle

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Posted: Thursday, June 13, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:03 am, Thu Jun 20, 2013.

Queens loses out on new teacher awards

Mayor Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott honored 11 teachers from around the city this week as winners of the first “Big Apple Awards” to recognize excellence in education, but none from Queens made the cut. Each winner will receive a $3,500 grant for use in the classroom and will serve as a “Big Apple Ambassador,” advising the city Department of Education.

The winners were selected from among nearly 1,500 nominees, by a panel of judges from the DOE, along with the United Federation of Teachers, the New York City Charter School Center, Columbia University, Lincoln Center, which sponsored one of the awards, and The New Teacher Project, a nonprofit group. There were four winners from schools in Manhattan, five from Brooklyn and two from the Bronx.

Mayor vetoes paid sick leave mandate

As expected, Mayor Bloomberg vetoed the paid sick leave bill last Friday, saying it would have negative impacts on businesses and nonprofit organizations.

The measure passed the City Council 45-3 in May. That’s far more votes than needed to override the veto, and the bill’s main sponsor, Councilwoman Gale Brewer (D-Manhattan), said she looks forward to doing just that.

The bill would require all companies with at least 20 employees to provide five paid sick days a year, starting next April, and would be extended to all firms with at least 15 workers in October 2015. A provision would allow the requirement to be suspended if the city’s economy is not performing well.

Panel fines Lopez for harassing women

Former Assemblyman Vito Lopez of Brooklyn, who resigned last month over allegations of sexually harassing several female interns and staffers, has been fined $330,000 by the state Legislative Ethics Commission for his actions, multiple media outlets said Wednesday. He and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) are also being sued by two of the women for allegedly covering up Lopez’s harassment of previous staffers with taxpayer-funded hush money, leaving others vulnerable.

Despite the scandal and his resignation from the Assembly, Lopez is running for the City Council seat being vacated by Councilwoman Diana Reyna (D-Brooklyn, Queens), which includes much of Ridgewood.

Immigration bill moves in Senate

A proposal to change the nation’s immigration laws, including offering a path to legal status for many illegal aliens, overcame a procedural hurdle in the U.S. Senate Tuesday, allowing debate on the measure to begin.

The bill was introduced by a bipartisan group of senators referred to as the Gang of Eight. Planned amendments to it would address issues from border security to the ability of undocumented immigrants to receive government benefits.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) reportedly said after the procedural vote that “illegal immigration will become a thing of the past” if the bill becomes law.

Solar subsidy plan advances in Albany

A bill that would provide $150 million in state funds for solar installations and other clean energy projects passed a key Assembly committee late last month and could be approved before the legislative session ends next week, the New York League of Conservation Voters reports.

The New York Solar Bill would produce enough energy to power 400,000 homes, provide jobs and give investors confidence in the industry, according to the NYLCV.

Already passed by the state Senate, it now has gone from the Assembly Ways and Means Committee to the Rules Committee.

— compiled by Peter C. Mastrosimone

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