A concerned parent used an Assembly District 25 community town hall meeting Tuesday to air her state-level grievances at Sen. John Liu (D-Bayside) and his decision to support mandated vaccines for public school students.
“My child hasn’t been in school in weeks, and I do hold you accountable,” she said freely from the audience. “You pretended that you cared about my family, and then you voted against us.”
“Everybody has a right to choose what they want for their own children, but I think as government that runs the schools we have a responsibility to other parents who [fear] what their kids will come in contact with,” retorted Liu, who backed the June bill to end vaccine exemptions based on religious beliefs. “I voted not to kick students out of school ... Let’s keep the facts straight.”
The woman stormed out after speaking out of turn at an event where questions were asked by “designated question askers.” The process quickly broke down following the argument.
Liu organized the event with Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows) to give community members the opportunity to ask direct questions on local issues. Representatives from a number of city departments were in attendance: Transportation, Design and Construction, Environmental Protection, Finance, Parks and Recreation, Sanitation, Buildings, as well as the state Housing and Community Renewal agency and the NYPD.
“We’re here to bring city and state agencies directly to you,” said Rozic.
Andrew Arcese, a representative for the city Department of Transportation, fielded the majority of questions, much of which included suggested speed humps and stop signs at various intersections. Requests for traffic control devices are some of the most common, said Arcese.
“Our evaluators are at the site all day to determine whether a traffic control device is warranted,” Arcese said in response to a community member’s concern that his request for a stop sign at the intersection of 73rd Avenue and 198th Street went unresolved. “You may not have seen him, but he’s there all day.”
Liu suggested a second site visit to the location to confirm that all processes were being handled adequately, inviting the community member to join in. “Let’s give our constituents the opportunity to be there. It’s not a political matter, it’s of safety.”
Liu suggested two other site visits before the meeting ended: to evaluate the size of the dirt mounds at the Underhill Avenue and 170th Street construction site, and to visit PS 184, where a playground has long been promised but construction has yet to begin.
“We have to listen to the constituents. They are there every day and every night,” said Liu.
Other topics of the meeting included Vision Zero site presentation requests, asbestos removal in family homes, zoning violations, bioswale installations, prolonged street parking and other local issues.
Due to the high volume of questions, the meeting concluded before all could be answered. Liu encouraged community members to find further information through the agencies’ websites, or by calling their offices, as well as reaching out to him directly.