Tag Archives: Joseph Crowley

Star of Queens: Christian Amez, Business Enterprise instructor, Woodside on the Move


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Amez

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Christian Amez has worked with Woodside on the Move for about five years, starting as an aide in the afterschool program. He ultimately created his own year-long class, the “Business Enterprise” program. It teaches children, in grades four and above, various financial literacy and math skills. From learning how to create a budget, to understanding credit and loans, these students ultimately create their own business plans and professionally pitch them to community leaders.

Woodside on the Move has served the Community Board 2 district for over 30 years, providing youth and cultural development programs all across Woodside and its surrounding neighborhoods.

BACKGROUND:  “I’m a first-generation American born in Queens. My family moved from Peru to Woodside, then finally Sunnyside,” said Amez. “Having grown up attending public schools in both neighborhoods (I.S. 125 and P.S. 150, respectively), the two are synonymous with home to me, so I spend a great deal of time getting to know my neighbors and participating in community outreach.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “My biggest challenge here had to be one I shared with Woodside on the Move, and that was our rally in May 2012 to restore funding for the afterschool and summer programs we host at P.S. 11 and 152,” said Amez.

During this time he said he had never seen so many students, parents, and community members engaged in what was a collective time of need.

FAVORITE MEMORY: The outpouring of support during the 2012 rally became Amez’s favorite memory at the organization.

“Soon after, due to the efforts of our executive director, Adrian Bordoni, all our staff, and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, we succeeded in temporarily restoring funding. In the following months, even more support came from Congressmember Joseph Crowley, who donated hundreds of school supplies for the children to prepare for their upcoming school year,” said Amez.

INSPIRATION: “I went through a very transformational time while studying finance. A lot of businessmen and women dream of becoming CEOs or billionaires, but why create one success story when you can create many,” asked Amez. That is what inspired him to work at Woodside on the Move, where the organization can improve the future of the city locally from the ground up, starting with the children.

 

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BP Marshall joins chorus for FAA exemption


| mchan@queenscourier.com


Borough President Helen Marshall has joined the ranks of Queens congressmembers who are urging the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to exempt two major city airports from a new federal rule.

“While the FAA’s Regional Administrator for our area has made an effort to work with my office and others in the borough, I believe that this is not the time to evade community input,” Marshall said in a letter to the administration.

The proposed FAA provision, officials said, would establish two new categorical exclusions, which would essentially allow the FAA to permanently implement new flight changes without conducting environmental studies.

Marshall and Congressmembers Steve Israel, Grace Meng and Joseph Crowley wrote a letter last week calling for the head of the FAA, Administrator Michael Huerta, to exempt LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy Airports from the order.

A categorical exclusion was applied to a newly approved flight path over Queens called the TNNIS IV climb. Residents said the change has brought upon a drastic increase in air noise.

“To implement such changes without first subjecting their potential impacts to the rigorous scrutiny of experts and the public during the environmental review process would, in my opinion, be irresponsible,” Marshall said.

Queens residents still have until September 30 to submit public comment to the FAA on the proposed rule by visiting www.regulations.gov or faxing comments to 202-493-2251.

Community Boards 7 and 13 passed a resolution this week urging the governor to support a bill that would require the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to conduct a noise study.

The boards join Community Board 11, which passed a resolution earlier this month.

 

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Pols call on FAA to exempt Queens airports from proposed federal rule


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Congressmember Steve Israel’s office

Two major city airports should be exempt from a new federal rule that would allow flight changes to be made without an environmental review, Queens congressmembers are demanding.

Representatives Steve Israel, Grace Meng and Joseph Crowley are urging the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to continue to implement change impact studies at LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy Airports.

A proposed FAA provision would establish two new categorical exclusions to avoid an environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act, elected officials said.

The new rule, officials said, would essentially allow the FAA to permanently implement new flight procedures without conducting environmental studies.

“The FAA should be focused on reducing noise and air pollution,” Israel said, “not making it easier to bypass vital environmental studies.”

The congressmembers said the head of the FAA, Administrator Michael Huerta, has the ability to exempt the two airports, which use “the most congested airspace in the country.”

A categorical exclusion was applied to a newly approved flight path over Queens called the TNNIS IV climb. Residents said the change has brought upon a barrage of low-flying planes and an increase in air noise.

“It is outrageous that the FAA is seeking greater leeway to exempt itself from vital environmental studies which determine whether or not new airplane routes — and the accompanying noise — adversely impact affected communities,” Meng said.

“The agency’s plan to further sidestep this critical process is a slap in the face to all who live and work underneath new flight patterns,” she continued.

Queens residents have until September 30 to submit public comment to the FAA on the proposed rule by visiting http://www.regulations.gov.

They can also fax comments to 202-493-2251 or mail them to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue S.E., Washington, D.C. 20590-0001.

“There isn’t a single plane that comes or goes from our airports that doesn’t fly directly over someone’s house,” Crowley said.

“Given this reality,” Crowley continued, “whenever the FAA is considering changes to the way flights arrive at and depart from our airports, the agency must thoroughly study the impacts it will have on our communities, especially with respect to noise.”

 

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Federal budget cuts affect Head Start programs


| editorial@queenscourier.com


Five classrooms at a Head Start center in Woodside are filled with young children learning to read, write and count.

In one classroom, students sing in English, Spanish and Bengali and dance to “La Bamba.”

The coming months could see fewer low-income families in the area receive childcare and early childhood education services because of federal budget reductions. Many of the families include immigrants from Latin America and South Asia.

The cuts are part of sweeping federal budget reductions known as the sequester. They could bring about a shorter program year, employee furloughs or fewer spots for three- to five-year-olds at the Child Center of NY’s Roosevelt Avenue Head Start program.

“We have really been looking at where we would absorb these cuts because overall, the number of federal dollars that you have is never enough to run the program to begin with,” said Linda Rodriguez, director of early childhood programs at the Child Center. “We’re kind of in limbo at this point as a program.”

The cuts, which went into effect March 1, included a five percent reduction in federal Head Start funding. That came out to a $406 million decline. The Department of Health and Human Services said up to 70,000 children nationwide could lose access to Head Start and Early Head Start services as a result.

The city’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) is preparing for an estimated $9 million decrease in federal funding for local Head Start programs, spokesman Michael Fagan said in an email. He added that the cuts will take effect July 1.

Local programs, which serve 3,000 youngsters in Queens alone, will have to tighten their fiscal year 2013 budgets.

According to city and Head Start data, 268 children in Community Board 2 were in Head Start last February. The district includes Sunnyside and Woodside. More than half of the children were in the Child Center of NY’s Head Start program, which had 170 slots at the time.

The Woodside center currently offers 85 slots, but space could shrink again in September because of the cuts.
Selina Akter, 35, of Woodside, said she is not sure how she and her husband will manage if their four-year-old son does not get access to Head Start. Akter and her spouse both work full-time.

“I don’t want to leave my job, because I need my job,” she said. “When [my son] is in school, I don’t worry about him.”

To be eligible for the free Woodside Head Start program, families must live within a 10-block radius of the center and earn no more than $23,550 a year for a four-person household, as per federal poverty guidelines.

If ACS, which doles out federal Head Start funds, tells the Woodside center to reduce its number of slots, staff will have to make some difficult decisions. Educational director Marie Mason said with a waiting list of more than 100 students, the center is already unable to accommodate every Woodside family that wants to enroll children in Head Start.

“If we had another center this size, or twice this size, I could fill it tomorrow,” she said.

Rodriguez said the coming drop in funds could mean reductions to a wide array of services, including nutrition and health counseling as well as parenting courses. The agency might also need to end the program early this summer, start up again later or move some children to a less expensive home-based program in which a teacher visits the family once a week for 1.5 hours.

“If we sustain a significant cut in funding, that ultimately is going to affect the enriched type of services that we are able to provide to families,” she said.

Last month, 30 Woodside mothers with children in Head Start visited Congressmember Joseph Crowley’s district office in Jackson Heights to express their concerns.

Ruth Campos, 42, said she worried about missed educational opportunities if her four-year-old daughter and other children from low-income families lose access to Head Start.

“If our children don’t have education, where are we going to go,” she asked. “Where?”

 -BY MATT SURRUSCO

 

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Queens congressmembers get mixed results on environment


| mchan@queenscourier.com


Some Queens congressmembers aced their green test last year. But some were average, and one was at the bottom of the class.

That is according to the New York League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV) latest national environmental scorecard.

Congressmembers Steve Israel and Carolyn Maloney were tops, with each scoring a 97, followed by Joseph Crowley with a 91. Both of the state’s U.S. Senators, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, scored 93 percent. Nydia Velázquez trailed slightly with an 86 percent and Gregory Meeks pulled a 77 percent.

Former representative Gary Ackerman scored a 74. But another retiring congressmember, Bob Turner, had an abysmal 3 percent, a low matched by Tea Party Republicans representing Big Oil districts in Texas.

The scores are based on 14 Senate votes and 35 House votes on public health, clean energy, land and wildlife conservation issues.

“In the face of unprecedented attacks on laws protecting water, air and land, environmental allies like Steve Israel, Caroline [sic] Maloney … stood up for our values and put New Yorkers first,” said NYLCV President Marcia Bystryn in a statement. “While Americans were seeing the historic impacts of extreme weather right outside their window, members like … Bob Turner continued to ignore the reality of climate change.”

The state’s average House score in the most recent review was 65 percent, falling drastically from 97 percent in 2010.

“The U.S. House of Representatives sided with Big Oil and corporate polluters time and time again in 2012, cementing its status as the most anti-environmental House in our nation’s history,” said Gene Karpinski, president of the country’s League of Conservation Voters.

“The best that can be said about this session of the 112th Congress is that it’s over,” Karpinski said.

 

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Local officials endorse Jeffries for Congress


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

Congressional hopeful and incumbent State Assemblymember Hakeem Jeffries received key endorsements from several local officials Friday afternoon on Cross Bay Boulevard as the days leading up to the June 26th primary grow fewer.

“I am honored to have the support of so many distinguished leaders from Queens,” Jeffries said. “Although our district spans two boroughs, we have the same priorities of better education for our children, preserving home ownership and getting people back to work.”

Congressmember Joseph Crowley, State Senator Joseph Addabbo and Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder — Jeffries’ colleague in Albany — endorsed the candidate, citing that despite being a Brooklyn based politician, they had confidence he would best represent the small portion of Queens that is part of the newly drawn Congressional District 8.

The officials said Jeffries was active in speaking with Queens residents and discussing their needs, despite Howard Beach, Ozone Park and Lindenwood making up only a small portion of the district.

“Hakeem Jeffries is exactly the kind of person we need in Congress,” said Crowley, who’s chairperson of the Democratic Party in Queens. “Not only will he fight to create jobs for New Yorkers, but he will also work hard to protect middle-class families, seniors and children.”

Jeffries said what he found most energizing about the area was how the various neighborhoods were united and concerned about the same issues.

The Jeffries campaign raised a little more that $250,000 from April 1 to June 6 alone, the campaign announced last week. 947 of the 1,217 donors in that time only gave $100 or less, according to a Jeffries press release. In total, Jeffries for Congress has raised $769,544 from 2,447 donors.

[Update] Queens postal center to remain open – for now


| smosco@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Steve Mosco

Elected officials joined union representatives and several community leaders to deliver a clear message to the United States Postal Service (USPS) — don’t even think about closing Queens’ distribution center.

And for now, it seems the USPS got the message.

Just days after State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky and Congressmember Joseph Crowley led a rally to protest the impending closure of the Queens Processing and Distribution Center in Whitestone, the Postal Service acquiesced and struck a deal to freeze all postal closures until May 2012.

“This is good news for Queens, and for the country. Hundreds of families in Queens can breathe a sigh of relief, but only temporarily,” said Stavisky. “We will continue to fight for a better alternative. Revamping the Postal Service should not require laying people off and hurting local businesses.”

In a plan that Stavisky called the “wrong decision at the wrong time,” the Postal Service announced earlier this month that it would “consolidate” Queens’ distribution center with another in Brooklyn. Stavisky said that this action would force residents and businesses who patronize the facility to travel to Brooklyn’s processing center — over 13 miles and hours of traffic away.

Officials also said that closing the facility will cost Queens over 1,000 jobs in mail handling, mail carrying, clerk jobs, maintenance workers and drivers. Local businesses would also feel the pinch, as many generate business from their proximity to the plant.

“The USPS plan is flawed. Their study has been rushed and is deceiving,” Stavisky said. “We can’t afford to be hemorrhaging jobs in this economy. We need time to find alternative measures that would not be as catastrophic for Queens.”

Crowley added that taking away jobs is not the kind of Christmas present the borough was expecting, so this reprieve is a welcomed – if temporary – holiday gift.

“The simple fact is we need more jobs in Queens, not less,” said Crowley.

The American Postal Workers Union, the Queens Chamber of Commerce and several civic associations were also on hand at the December 9 rally. With the announcemnt of the closure freeze, it seems the USPS heard the calls for more public comment time.

According to those in attendance at the rally, the USPS has yet to release the contents of its feasibility study — which the Service used to determine the need for closure. But Stephen Larkin, executive vice president of the American Postal Workers Union, said the USPS is ignoring the facts.

“It’s our concern that the level of distribution of mail to Queens, specifically people who are waiting to pay bills, rent and mortgages, are going to find an increased delay,” he said.

This reprieve gives Queens elected officials more time to do the work necessary to keep postal service in Queens.

“While this decision does not mean our postal facilities are in the clear, it does allow for more time to seek alternatives to help USPS meet its financial obligations,” said Crowley. “I understand the Postal Service has a bottom line, but balancing its books on the backs of Queens’ and Bronx families is not the answer.”