Schumer Says Keep Dog-Sniffing Program intact

    U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer

    U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) demanded that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reverse their decision to cut critical canine Visible Intermodal Prevent and Response (VIPR) teams from New York City yesterday.

    Last week, TSA in a cost-cutting move announced a proposal to eliminate federal funding to the bomb detecting canine teams across the five boroughs. TSA chief David Pekoske said he wanted to eliminate the agency’s use of canine VIPR teams and turn the responsibility over to state and local governments.

    Canine teams include a highly trained detection dog and a handler. Visible Intermodal Prevent and Response (VIPR) teams, which augment the security of any mode of transportation at any location within the United States using an asset of DHS including canine detection teams. VIPR teams may approach people and ask questions, examine bags, search vehicles, conduct searches, and patrol the airport to detect suspicious activity.  According to the TSA, the agency allocates canine teams to specific cities and airports utilizing risk-based criteria that take into account multiple factors, including threat score, number of people with secure access, and passenger throughput.

    “We are talking about preserving the most basic charge of the TSA: to keep America safe. And to suggest in a formal Congressional hearing that we can do without these specially trained teams is both myopic and maddening. Given the all-too-recent suicide bombing attempt within the Port Authority subway station, just this past December, it is unthinkable that the TSA is even considering the removal of our security firewall; the canine VIPR teams,” said Schumer.

    “My message to the TSA is a simple one: if you think you are going to tell New York to just pick up the security slack and then the tab for a canine VIPR team that is–and must remain–a federal responsibility, you are barking up the wrong tree, because it should not happen. Canine teams are not a luxury. In New York City, canine dog teams can mean life or death,” added Schumer.

    Addabbo Brings Climate Scientist To Forest Hills For Earth Day

    Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr.

    State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth and parts of South Ozone Park, Ridgewood, Woodside and The Rockaways) has collaborated with the Interfaith Community Action Committee of Queens/Nassau. Central Queens Y and the Cultural Arts & Jewish Heritage Programs to invite a climate scientist from Queens College to Forest Hills for an environmental discussion on Earth Day.

    Professor Stephen Pekar, the professor of Earth and Environmental Science at Queens College, will be at the Forest Hills Jewish Center or his discussion The Last Time It Got This Hot On Earth: A Climate Scientist Looks Back and Then Forward to a Sustainable Future.

    During the discussion, Dr. Pekar will talk about the what the Earth’s climate was like tens of millions of years ago, the last time the levels of greenhouse gases was as high as what is predicted for this century.

    “Dr. Pekar has traveled the globe researching climate changes that took place millions of years ago and what that means for humans living on the planet today,” Addabbo said. “I am happy to help bring him to the Forest Hills Jewish Center to discuss what we all can do to create a more sustainable planted for everyone — especially on Earth Day when we all should try to make our planet a little more green.”

    The discussion is slated for 3 p.m., Earth Day, Sunday April 22 at the Forest Hills Jewish Center, 106-06 Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills. The event is free and open to the public.

    Avella, Whitestone Residents Call on City to Address Water Concerns

    Sen. Tony Avella

    State Sen. Tony Avella (D-College Point, Whitestone, Bayside, Flushing, Jamaica Estates, Fresh Meadows, Bellerose, Floral Park, Jamaica, Douglaston, Little Neck, Auburndale, Kissena Park, Briarwood) Friday stood with homeowners from eight houses on 2nd Avenue in Whitestone to call on the city and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to address serious quality of life issues with their water.

    For years, eight homes on 2nd Avenue, between 147th Street and 147th Place, have had to deal with flooding conditions and poor water pressure, if they have water at all. The flooding subsided when the Department of Transportation (DOT) resurfaced their road. However, the city has failed to address the lack of water. DEP has also failed to respond to any of Avella’s letters about this issue since 2013.

    “The city paved the road, why won’t they address this? This is clearly not a private street. Shame on the city for this horrible excuse to deprive these taxpayers of a decent quality of life,” said Avella.

    Avella and the residents are renewing their call to begin a capital project on this street in order to install sufficient water pipes. Usually, when a capital project is requested it takes a minimum of five years before there are shovels in the ground. The Senator’s original request is already over five years old

    “Imagine getting up every morning and not knowing if you’re going to have any water in your house that day. That is exactly what is happening to these homeowners. They pay their water and sewer bills like every other New York homeowner but the city withholds basic city services from them. It is so frustrating that the city bureaucracy won’t come and help these people but they’re going to have to. You shouldn’t have to live like this, that’s the bottom line,” said Avella.

    Lancman’s Justice System Committee Hears About Wage Theft

    City Council Member Rory I Lancman

    City Council Member Rory I. Lancman (D-Briarwood, Cunningham Park, Flushing, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Fresh Meadows, Hollis, Holliswood, Jamaica, Jamaica Estates, Jamaica Hills, Kew Gardens, Kew Gardens Hills, Richmond Hill), chair of the council’s Committee on the Justice System today will hold an oversight hearing on investigations and prosecutions of wage theft

    The hearing will include testimony from district attorneys’ offices, civil legal services providers, and worker advocates.

    Wage theft is a serious problem facing New York City workers, especially in low-wage industries, whereby employees are denied the salary that they have rightfully earned.

    The National Law Project found in 2010 that low wage workers in New York City lost $1 billion in wages annually. To help combat wage theft and increase enforcement against bad actors, the city’s five district attorneys, in coordination with city and state agencies, launched the Wage Theft Initiative in December 2017.

    The hearing is slated for 1 p.m., today, April 16 at City Hall in Lower Manhattan.

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