The right of way exists, the tracks exist, the infrastructure, although it needs work, still exists — if we want to improve Queens transportation and stimulate economic growth for future development of our borough, the complete restoration an…
As home to two of the country’s biggest airports, Queens owes much of its economic activity and jobs to JFK and LaGuardia. Airports sell merchandise, employ local residents and need support staff to keep things running around the clock. Those jobs used to pay decent wages that allowed Queens families to live nearby and raise their kids in our city.
But now, there’s a disturbing trend. According to a recent report by researchers from the University of California at Berkeley, wages from airport jobs are falling rapidly as families find themselves struggling just to pay the bills and keep up. That’s because loopholes and outside contracting exempts many of these employees from the wages and benefits that come with being an official employee of a major airline company. As a result, one out of three airport workers lives in poverty and relies on taxpayer assistance to feed and shelter their families.
On Wednesday, Oct. 30, at 6 p.m. in the International High School at Prospect Heights, the Department of Education’s Panel on Educational Policy voted on all co-location proposals. Martin Van Buren High School, IS 59, August Martin High School, PS 40, JHS 226, MS 72 and the Corona Arts and Sciences Academy are the schools in Queens facing co-location.
Last week, the DOE called off its plans to co-locate a new elementary school in the building of PS 1 after parents, teachers and elected officials spoke at the hearing against the proposal. At the Martin Van Buren High School co-location hearing on Oct. 23, state Sen. Tony Avella, Councilman Mark Weprin and I — along with parents, teachers, civic leaders, students and community members — urged the department to hold off on its plans to co-locate a new school in the building. However, the DOE has ignored our request for a meeting and is instead pushing through with the proposal.
With the government shutdown having ended after more than two weeks of nonstop finger-pointing from both sides of the aisle in DC, let us not forget those who have served this country for ideals they believe in — and the effect that this mess made on their livelihoods in such a short amount of time.
And of course it could all happen again in January, when the deal reached by the president and Congress expires.
Art is in the eyes of the beholder. And last Thursday, Federal District Court Judge Frederic Block kind of agreed, and issued a 10-day temporary restraining order to the 16 graffiti artists who have filed a lawsuit in an attempt to save the art they painted on 5Pointz, the “Graffiti Mecca” of the art world, by stopping the demolition of the buildings located in Long Island City.
In a brilliant legal argument presented by Jeannine Chanes and Roland Acevedo, the two lawyers who are representing the artists, the plaintiffs argue that destroying the artwork is in violation of the Visual Artists Rights Act and copyright law.
On any particular day, whether I’m working, getting a cup of coffee, shopping or having dinner in the district, people detail their experiences involving Superstorm Sandy in many different ways. A year later, many still get tears in their eyes, others remain frustrated about the lack of progress, while some see it as a chance to make improvements and some are optimistic about community improvements. One storm, a year later, still causes many emotions.
While we can’t control the weather, we can take steps to control the level of our preparedness and what direction our government takes in addressing the next storm. We’ve learned a lot from Sandy, and I would urge my constituents to think ahead and make sure they have detailed emergency
plans in place: Know how to contact one another in case of an emergency; have adequate supplies of canned goods, medicines, batteries, flashlights and water on hand; know what to do to help secure your homes and properties to minimize risks during a storm. Useful hurricane preparedness information may be found at this New York State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services website: http://www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/event/hurricane-safety.cfm.
Nearly 365 days ago, Hurricane Sandy came in as a force of destruction, but what came next was a force of unity and strength that no storm can take from us. In what seemed like a tunnel with no end in sight, days turned into weeks and then months and now we realize how far we’ve come. There are still enormous tasks ahead of us.
Almost 85 percent of the people I represent were affected by Sandy, including my own home and office. The destruction displaced my family and gave me an intimate experience in the tragedy. I have been on the front lines since the beginning of the storm and many days have tested my resolve, but seeing the strength of my own wife, Esther, and my young children, Eliana and Asher, willed me to keep going.