Meeks Calls for Emergency Measures for CDFIs and MDIs
U.S. Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (D-Jamaica, Laurelton, Rosedale, Cambria Heights, Saint Albans, Springfield Gardens, The Rockaways, JFK Airport) and U.S. Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) co-led a letter Friday to Federal Reserve Chairman Powell and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin asking that temporary emergency measures be taken to support Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs).
MDIs and CDFIs function to serve small businesses, low-and moderate-income communities, and communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The letter comes as Congressional Democrats recently succeeded in negotiating funds be set aside for small community banks, MDIs and CDFIs in the recent Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) replenishment, giving truly small businesses and minority business owners better access to the PPP program through small community banks and CDFIs.
Other members of congress who joined Congressman Meeks and Senator Harris in signing the letter include Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Doug Jones (D-AL), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Representatives Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Al Green (D-TX), Joyce Beatty (D-OH), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and David Scott (D-GA).
Constantinides Condemns BOE Decision to Kick Muslim Women Off Ballot
City Council Member Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria, East Elmhurst, parts of Long Island City, Woodside ) on Friday blasted the Board of Elections’ decision last week to kick two Muslim women running for office in Queens from the ballot during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The two candidates are Mary Jobaida, who seeks to unseat state Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan (D-Long Island City), and Moumita Ahmed, who is running for Democratic district leader in Assembly District 31 in Jamaica. Both are Muslims of Bengali descent.
They BOE removed them from the ballot last week because the names they’re running under do not match those under which they’re registered to vote.
“Queens is the most diverse place on Earth with a growing immigrant population, who deserve to have a voice. Two Muslim women were kicked off the ballot for shortening their names on their petitions. However, this is a common practice used by many elected officials including Bill Clinton (William) and Marty Markowitz (Martin). At face value, the decisions against Mary Jobaida and Moumita Ahmed was a xenophobic attempt to keep two women of color from entering the political discourse,” said Constantinides.
We need more diverse voices, both in background and in thought, now more than ever. These are unprecedented times in which the Bangladeshi community is hit particularly hard. The Board of Elections should recognize the trials we face right now, and allow people who have worked to appear on the ballot to have a shot to represent their communities,” he added.
BP Lee Announces Extension of Initiative to Help Stem Food Insecurity
Acting Queens Borough President Sharon Lee announced this weekend a two-month extension to Queens’ partnership with FreshDirect’s citywide initiative — dubbed “Operation 5-Borough Food Drive” — to help Queens residents and families weather food insecurity during the ongoing public health and economic emergency of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beginning today, 500 grocery boxes per day prepared by FreshDirect, supplemented with beverages generously donated by Liberty Coca-Cola Beverages, will be picked up by participating Queens non-profit community-based organizations (CBOs) to distribute amongst their clients, including seniors, low-income families and other vulnerable populations across all 14 Queens Community Districts.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will continue to assist in transporting some of the bulk grocery boxes to limited CBOs.
“Social distancing does not mean familial isolation,” said Lee. “As our city continues to battle these extreme public health and economic crises, Queens thanks FreshDirect and Liberty Coca-Cola for moving swiftly and in collaboration to extend this vital initiative and to help stem the tide of food insecurity. Queens is also deeply grateful to our non-profit community partners for their brave, unwavering commitment to serve the most vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The first four weeks of the food drive between March 24 through April 17 — launched with the assistance of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and made possible in part by a $10,000 donation from The Coca-Cola Company — featured daily deliveries of 400 grocery boxes per day to the Borough of Queens, with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey assisting in transporting some of the bulk grocery boxes to limited CBOs.
By the end of the initiative’s first four weeks, approximately 7,600 grocery boxes were distributed across more than three dozen Queens CBOs, to be provided to families in need in every corner of the borough.
Schumer Demands FDA Crackdown on Unregulated Coronavirus Test Kits
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) yesterday demanded yesterday that the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) begin a crackdown focused on more oversight of the marketplace, ramped-up inspections and cease and desist actions against bad actors selling an all-out explosion of unproven, untested and unregulated do-it-yourself, at-home coronavirus test kits now for sale across the internet.
“While the coronavirus itself continues to risk infecting people, varying at-home test kits for the virus’s antibodies, and even the disease itself, are now infecting the internet and the consumer marketplace. However, the vast, vast majority of these ‘kits’ are unproven, untested and totally unregulated by the FDA, and that’s dangerous,” said Schumer.
Schumer said that as part of returning to normal, consumers—especially New Yorkers—could be hard hit by faulty tests that mislead an already uncertain public. He said that the FDA must immediately move heaven and earth to ensure this emerging testing marketplace does not become riddled with shoddy at-home kits that are not backed by the FDA and the best available science.
Schumer also said New Yorkers are currently purchasing these kits and that the feds must act swiftly or risk turning a pandemic into a false sense of security epidemic that hurts hot spots like New York which must rely upon testing accuracy to fully return to normal.
“The authenticity and accuracy of any at-home testing kits must be paramount at the FDA, because consumers are not only willing to buy them, but they are willing to rely upon them. Shoddy tests could spell disaster for hot spot states like New York because if there is anything New York and other places will require to turn the page on this virus, it’s rooted in testing accuracy, and these unregulated kits pose serious risk to the overall recovery,” Schumer added.